Ill. Unemployment Rate Matches Record Low

The 4.1% unemployment figure reported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) matches the lowest number ever posted for this figure, a widely-cited index of economic health and activity in Illinois. Preliminary data, which is subject to revision as more numbers come in, indicates that nonfarm payroll total employment increased in the Land of Lincoln by 2,800 jobs in September as opposed to August 2018. The same figure, when counted on a year-to-year basis (September 2017 to September 2018) showed a net gain of more than 50,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.

September 2018 job creation was especially strong in education, construction, and manufacturing. The Illinois manufacturing economy created an estimated 2,300 net new jobs in September 2018 alone, and created 14,600 new factory jobs over the past 12 months. It should be noted, however, that the Illinois manufacturing sector is not as dominant as it was in February 1999, the last time our State’s unemployment rate was 4.1%. Illinois’ overall job universe has adjusted over the past two decades. In line with overall worldwide trends towards automation, many Illinois jobs have moved from factories to offices and service-related employment opportunities.

Illinois’ September 2018 unemployment is slightly higher (0.4%) than the 3.7% national unemployment rate for the same month. The nationwide trend is towards the 4.0% level that economists refer to as “full employment.”

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