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Statewide Unemployment Rate Down, Jobs Up in January 2021

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate decreased -0.3 percentage point to 7.7 percent, while nonfarm payrolls were up +9,700 jobs in January, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The December monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report, from -2,500 to -9,200 jobs. The December unemployment rate was revised from the preliminary report, rising +0.4 percentage point to 8.0 percent.

The January payroll jobs estimate and unemployment rate reflects activity for the week including the 12th. The BLS has published FAQs for the January payroll jobs and the unemployment rate.

In January, the three industry sectors with the largest over-the-month gains in employment were: Professional and Business Services (+11,500), Leisure and Hospitality (+5,100), and Other Services (+2,400). The industry sectors that reported the largest monthly payroll declines were: Financial Activities (-6,400), Construction (-3,200), and Government (-1,800).

“While the unemployment rate and job markets continue to be impacted by the ongoing  effects of COVID-19, with vaccination rates continuing to increase, we are focused on building a strong recovery on the other side of this pandemic,” said Deputy Governor Dan Hynes.  “This administration is fully committed to supporting individuals displaced from their jobs and ensuring small businesses and working families have the support they need to recover and grow in a post-pandemic economy.”

“Today’s data shows that Illinois is making steady progress in restoring jobs and building towards economic recovery,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we have deployed over $1 billion to date in emergency relief programs to help some of the hardest hit businesses and communities in our state. The recent passage of the American Rescue Plan will further support our economic recovery with additional emergency relief to help build back key industries, support our workforce, and provide targeted investments for businesses and communities that need it most.”

The state’s unemployment rate was +1.4 percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for January, which was 6.3 percent, down -0.4 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was up +4.2 percentage points from a year ago when it was 3.5 percent.

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment decreased by -504,800 jobs, with losses across all major industries. The industry groups with the largest jobs decreases were: Leisure and Hospitality (-216,600), Government (-71,100) and Educational and Health Services (-65,400). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were down -8.2 percent over-the-year as compared to the nation’s -6.3 percent over-the-year decline in January.

The number of unemployed workers fell from the prior month, a -3.6 percent decrease to 473,000, and was up +114.0 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was down -0.1 percent over-the-month and down -3.5 percent 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, Governor 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 Illinois Job Link (IJL), the state’s largest job search engine, which recently showed 41,909 posted resumes with 103,844 available jobs.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Illinois Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs – by Major Industry

  •  1976-2020 seasonally adjusted labor force data for Illinois, and all other states, have been revised as required by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The monthly historical revisions to state labor force estimates reflect new national benchmark controls, state working-age population controls, seasonal factors, as well as updated total nonfarm jobs and unemployment benefits claims inputs.  Illinois labor force data were also smoothed to eliminate large monthly changes as a result of volatility in the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) and national benchmarking. For these reasons, the comments and tables citing unemployment rates in previous news releases/materials may no longer be valid.
  •  Monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Illinois and the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division are available here.
  •  Monthly 2016-2020 seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment data for Illinois have been revised. To control for potential survey error, the estimates are benchmarked annually to universal counts derived primarily from unemployment insurance tax reports.
  •  Not seasonally adjusted jobs data with industry detail are available here. “Other Services” include activities in three broad categories: personal and laundry; repair and maintenance; and religious, grant making, civic and professional organizations.  Seasonally adjusted data for subsectors within industries are not available.

About the Department of Employment Security
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) provides vital employment services to Illinois workers, employers, and job seekers with resources including Job Fairs and Illinois Job Link, 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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