Illinois’ unemployment rate is still lagging behind the rest of the nation and is the highest of all Midwestern states at 7.1%, leaving 436,400 Illinoisans looking for work, according to analysis by the Illinois Policy Institute. And Rockford has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in Illinois.

The Illinois Policy Institute study points out numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that show while Illinois made some employment gains last month (about 32,000 jobs), and continues a 3-month run of job gains, we're still looking at our Midwestern neighbors from behind.

Here in Illinois, our unemployment rate is at 7.1 percent. Wisconsin has a jobless rate of 3.8 percent, Michigan sits at 5.1, Iowa is at 3.7, Indiana's rate is 3.9, Missouri is at 4.2, and Kentucky's unemployment rate is at 5.0 percent.

There's no getting around the fact that our numbers are bad. Sitting at 7.1 percent is good enough to put us at number ten out of 50 states in unemployment numbers. The next closest to us in numbers would be Michigan with their 5.1% rate, which puts them at number 26 out of 50.

What makes this worse on a personal level for all of us living in Rockford is that the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) numbers show that unemployment misery isn't shared evenly across Illinois. Decatur and Rockford have the highest unemployment numbers in the state. Decatur is at 8.6%, while Rockford is at 8.1% 

Percentages can sometimes mask the actual human toll that pandemic-related unemployment is causing. What does 8.1 percent mean here in Rockford? (using numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Illinois Department of Employment Security):

Rockford lost a total of 8,100 non-farming jobs since March 2020.

Leisure-Hospitality (-2,000),    Educational-Health Services (-1,800),  Manufacturing (-1,500), and  Retail Trade (-700) sectors recorded the largest employment declines over-the-year.


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