Illinois unemployment drops to pre-COVID levels

Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in June – the lowest rate recorded since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Thursday, July 21.

Nonfarm payrolls also increased by 18,800 jobs in June, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The May monthly change in payrolls also was pushed up from the preliminary report, jumping from 12,800 jobs to 13,400 new jobs. The May unemployment rate, however, remained at 4.6% or 0.1 percentage point higher than the June figures.

The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

“Illinois has made tremendous strides in the labor market, adding nearly 250,000 jobs over the past year and reaching the lowest unemployment rate since the onset of the pandemic,” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sylvia Garcia said in a news release.

The industry sectors with the largest month-over-month gains, according to IDES, included: Leisure and Hospitality, up 9,900 jobs; Professional and Business Services, plus 3,100; Construction, up 2,000; and Educational and Health Services, up 2,000. Industry sectors  reporting monthly payroll declines included: Financial Activities, down 1,700, and Other Services, minus 800.

The state’s unemployment rate also was 0.9 of a percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for June, which was 3.6%, unchanged from the previous month. But the Illinois unemployment rate was down 2 percentage points from a year ago when it stood at 6.5%

Compared to 2021, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 245,700 jobs in Illinois, with gains across nearly all major industries. The industry groups with the largest job increases include: Leisure and Hospitality, up 79,900 jobs; Professional and Business Services, up 51,100; and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, up 40,900. Mining, which dropped 100 jobs, was the only industry sector that reported an over-the-year decline in payroll employment. In June, total nonfarm payrolls were up 4.2% over-the-year in Illinois and up 4.3% in the nation.

The number of unemployed workers was down from the prior month – a 2.3% decrease to 290,600. It also was down 28.8% over the same month one year ago. The labor force was almost unchanged over-the-month and up 2.2% over the year. 

“With the statewide unemployment rate at its lowest since the onset of the pandemic, the data released today is a further reflection of continued economic recovery and evidence of a strengthening Illinois labor market,” said Illinois Deputy Gov. Andy Manar. “As continued claims volumes reach record lows, the Pritzker Administration and IDES, working with local partners, are committed to providing employment and training resources to ensure a competitive labor force while assisting employers in finding versatile workers.”

In partnership with IDES and DCEO, Mr. Pritzker launched Get Hired Illinois, a one-stop-shop website to help connect job seekers with hiring employers in real time. The site features virtual job fairs, no-cost virtual training, and includes, the state’s largest job search engine, which recently showed 46,350 posted resumes with 164,137 available jobs.

Services IDES provides to Illinois workers, employers, and job seekers includes Job Fairs and, analyzes and disseminates actionable Labor Market Information, and administers the Unemployment Insurance Program. To find out more visit

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