Illinois unemployment rate was steady; but higher than national average

Illinois Department of Employment Security logo

Illinois’ jobless rate remained unchanged at 4.7% in December and payroll was nearly unchanged from November, but down over the same time last year, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). 

The state’s December unemployment rate was +1.2 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for December, which stood at 3.5%. That was down -0.1 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois monthly unemployment rate was down -0.4 percentage point from a year ago when it was at 5.1%.

Based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES, the industry sectors with the largest over-the-month gains in employment in December included: 

  • Educational and Health Services, +5,200.
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities, +3,300.
  • Government, +1,800. 

The industry sectors with the largest monthly payroll declines included: 

  • Professional and Business Services, -3,000.
  • Leisure and Hospitality, -2,500.
  • Other Services, -2,100.

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 161,000 jobs with gains across nearly all major industries. The industry groups with the largest job increases included: 

  • Leisure and Hospitality, +42,900.
  • Educational and Health Services, +30,300
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities, +25,000. 

Mining was unchanged from a year ago. In December, total nonfarm payrolls were up +2.7% over-the-year in Illinois and up 3% in the nation.

“As payroll and the unemployment rate remains steady throughout the state, Illinois is focused on continued job expansion and engaging jobseekers into the strengthening economy,” Deputy Gov. Andy Manar said in a news release. “As they have done since the beginning of the recovery effort, IDES continues to assist workers, employers, and businesses with the resources they need to actively participate in the labor market.”

The number of unemployed workers in December was 303,200 – unchanged from the prior month, but down -6.6% over the same month one year ago. The labor force was down slightly (-0.2%) over-the-month and up +1.2% 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.

“Illinois’ stable employment market coupled with long-term improvements over the past two years serve as a testament to the state’s strong recovery efforts,” said DCEO Acting Director Kristin A. Richards. “Looking ahead, DCEO remains committed to creating a strong environment for job creators while supporting job seekers with training and support services.”

In May 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker launched Get Hired Illinois, a new 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, which recently showed 55,797 posted resumes with 126,713 available jobs.

IDES provides vital employment services to Illinois workers, employers, and job seekers with resources including Job Fairs and, analyzes and disseminates actionable Labor Market Information, and administers the Unemployment Insurance Program. To see the full range of services provided by IDES, and for the latest news concerning the department, visit


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