The Illinois unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in September, according to today’s economic release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of payroll jobs in Illinois increased by 19,300 in September, the sixth-best monthly increase in the last 10 years.

Illinois’ workforce grew by 5,800 in September, the first month of increased participation in the last six months. However, Illinois’ workforce is still down by 76,000 over the last six months, and the state’s labor force participation rate remains at 35-year lows.

Illinois’ increase in payroll jobs brings the state’s gains up to 35,000 on the year, which puts Illinois 41st in the U.S. in terms of jobs-growth rate.

But jobs gains have not been even. Illinois’ biggest pain point has been the manufacturing sector. After a slow recovery from the recession, the manufacturing sector has been bleeding jobs for the last two years. In the month of September, Illinois lost 2,800 manufacturing jobs, making Illinois No. 1 for manufacturing losses in the Midwest in the recession era.

Illinois remains down 130,900 total payroll jobs in the recession era, the second-worst recovery of any state, ahead of only New Jersey.

The Land of Lincoln showed a gain of 11,000 in the employment survey, which counts the number of people who are working, for the month of September. However, Illinoisans have been slower to get back to work than any other state. At the current pace of growth, Illinois will have the same number of people working in September 2021 as it did before the recession, meaning that Illinois has seven more years just to break even on the Great Recession.


Michael Lucci is Director of Jobs and Growth for the Illinois Policy Institute.

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