Illinois unemployment rate dips in May

The State of Illinois’ unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.1% in May as the number of unemployed workers hit its lowest level since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the state’s rate fell as nonfarm payrolls increased by 2,500 jobs, based on preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

In May, the industry sectors with the largest over-the-month job gains across the state included: Government (+2,600), Financial Activities (+1,900), and Leisure and Hospitality (+1,400). Meanwhile, the industry sectors showing the largest monthly payroll job declines included: Construction (-2,400), Manufacturing (-1,700), and Information (-800).

As part of its unemployment report, IDES announced revised statistics from April’s preliminary report. The monthly change in payrolls was revised from +8,500 jobs to +8,800 jobs. The monthly unemployment rate for April remained unchanged at 4.2%. 

The May payroll jobs estimate and unemployment rate reflect activity for the week that includes May 12.

“Today’s data is further evidence that Illinois continues to experience sustained economic stabilization and expanded job growth across industry sectors throughout the state,” Deputy Gov. Andy Manar said in the IDES release. “The state’s commitment to investments in workforce and economic development, coupled with the resources provided by IDES, gives jobseekers more opportunities to participate in the labor force and gives employers the ability to expand their businesses with Illinois talent.”

Kristin Richards, the director of Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, pointed to the falling unemployment rate and continued job growth as “evidence of a strong economy that continues to propel forward.”

“The state is fostering an environment for sustained economic progress by attracting job creators to the state and bolstering Illinois’ top-tier workforce, providing resources to jobseekers, and supporting working families throughout Illinois,” she said in the release. 

Illinois’ unemployment rate was +0.4 percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May, which IDES said is the smallest difference since February 2020. The national unemployment rate was 3.7% in May, up +0.3 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was down -0.3 percentage point from a year ago when it was 4.4%.

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll jobs increased by +120,300 jobs, with gains across most major industries. The industry groups with the largest job increases included: Educational and Health Services (+37,200), Leisure and Hospitality (+34,900) and Government (+30,300). Declines in payroll jobs were reported in Information (-4,100) and Professional and Business Services (-1,400).

In May, total nonfarm payrolls were up 2% over-the-year in Illinois and up +2.7% in the nation.

The number of unemployed workers was 265,200, the lowest level since the pandemic began. The number of unemployed workers was down 3.5% from the prior month, and down 7.4% over the same month one year ago. 

The labor force was down -0.1% over-the-month and down -0.2% over-the-year. 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.

In May 2020, Gov. J.B. 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 (IJL), the state’s largest job search engine. The site recently showed 53,861 posted resumes with 110,158 available jobs.

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