Good news on state job front

Illinois unemployment rate holds steady at lowest level in 12 years

More Illinois residents are finding that job interviews are turning into actual jobs. (Shutterstock)

More Illinois residents are finding that job interviews are turning into actual jobs. (Shutterstock)

By Ted Cox

Illinois's jobless rate has leveled off at its lowest point in a dozen years.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security, which handles unemployment claims, released its report for June and the first half of 2018 Thursday, finding that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.3 percent, slightly above the national average of 4 percent, but still the lowest level in the state since September 2006.

The state added more than 18,000 non-farm jobs in June, the highest monthly total in a year.

"June’s payroll gain is the largest in 12 months and the third-largest in 24 months,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Illinois’s unemployment rate held steady in June and stands at its lowest point in 12 years."

The state averaged more than 7,500 additional jobs a month in the first half of the year, but performed particularly well in the second quarter, April through June, when it averaged more than 9.500 a month. June was key to that, as May's job increase was actually reduced from the initial report a month ago, from 8,600 new jobs to 7,700.

Government jobs, the leisure and hospitality industry, and professional and business positions showed the most growth, all up more than 5,000 jobs from the previous month — no doubt reflecting some seasonal summer hiring. Trade, transportation, and utilities suffered the most as a sector, perhaps reflecting the first impact of President Trump's trade war.

From year to year in June, Illinois gained more than 58,000 jobs, again led by government and leisure and hospitality, but with education and health services placing third as a growth sector. Information services suffered the most, with 3,800 lost jobs, while miners lost 200.

Even so, the department expressed continued optimism. "This positive trend of 12-year lows and new job growth is encouraging,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “Our commitment to the people of Illinois remains building a competitive economy that attracts opportunity and allows our hard-working citizens to thrive."