United StatesIllinois

Even with some improvement, high unemployment numbers could linger

A man walks past a retail store that is going out of business due to the coronavirus pandemic in Winnetka, Ill., Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Some Illinoisans are getting back to work, but for others, the process has been too slow.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Thursday the state’s unemployment rate fell to 14.6 percent, down from 15.3 percent in May.

Non-farm payrolls added nearly 143-thousand jobs in June, a record monthly increase. The three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were leisure and hospitality, trade transportation and utilities, and education and health services.

Orphe Divounguy, the chief economist with the Illinois Policy Institute, said Illinois is far behind other Midwestern states in terms of getting people off the sidelines and back to work.

“Illinois has suffered three months of the region’s worst employment outcomes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, causing us to fall farther and farther behind our neighbors,” Divounguy said. “Illinois’ businesses are diverse, and they need more specific plans allowing them to operate at the best of their abilities given the current crisis and associated lockdown.”

IPI noted the number of idled workers continuing to need unemployment assistance has remained virtually stagnant since mid-April, a 2.6% drop, as other states see double-digit improvements. Ohio reported a 47% drop in claims, while Michigan saw a 40.8% drop.

“The continuing claims are decreasing much faster, 3 to 20 times faster in other Midwestern states simply indicating that Illinois’ recovery is lagging,” Divounguy said.

State officials said the jobs report was a sign of good things to come.

“The report shows that while Illinois has started to see positive indicators of a turnaround in unemployment and a return to jobs, we still have work to do,” said Michael Negron, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “While the duration of the crisis cannot be known, the state importantly continues to prioritize public health and mitigation of the virus that will help enable a faster economic recovery, and help more Illinoisans return to work.”

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