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Unemployment rate unchanged at 5.7% in January

Illinois’s unemployment rate held at 5.7 percent in January and nonfarm payrolls increased by +1,700 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and distributed today by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). December job growth was revised up to show an increase of +2,000 jobs rather than the preliminary estimate of -16,700 jobs. The modest monthly gain in January payrolls kept job growth well below the national average, with Illinois -31,900 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000.

Today’s report incorporates annual benchmark revisions for nonfarm payrolls as well as labor force statistics. Nonfarm payrolls were revised higher for 2015 (+28,200 jobs in December) and 2016 (+18,700 jobs in December). Labor force statistics were revised down in 2016 (-60,900 fewer people in December). The average monthly downward revision was -69,400 for the labor force in 2016; and -11,200 for unemployed individuals.

“The BLS revised up the jobs figures for both 2015 and 2016, as we expected due to the additional information based on our wage and employment filings,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Clearly, we’re disappointed that job growth hasn’t been more robust as we are still far behind the peak employment level of nearly 17 years ago.”

“If Illinois had grown at the same rate as the nation since the beginning of the recovery in 2010, we would have an additional 222,700 jobs,” said Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “With a balanced budget and structural changes that will create jobs, our economy will be better able to provide opportunities for Illinois families.”

In January, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Construction (+6,800); Financial Activities (+3,800); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+2,700). The largest payroll declines were in the following sectors: Government (-4,000); Leisure and Hospitality (-3,500); and Professional and Business Services (-3,600).

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +15,900 jobs with the largest gains in: Professional and Business Services (+11,700); and Education and Health Services (+9,400). Industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines in January include: Manufacturing (-10,100); Other Services (-3,300); and Information (-1,700). The +0.3 percent over-the-year gain in Illinois is less than the +1.6 percent gain posted by the nation in January.

The state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for January 2017, which increased to 4.8 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.4 percentage points from a year ago when it was 6.1 percent.

The number of unemployed workers increased +0.5 percent from the prior month to 374,800, down -7.0 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force increased +0.3 percent over-the-month but declined by -0.6 percent in January over the prior year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work. To help connect jobseekers to employers who are hiring, IDES’ maintains the state’s largest job search engine (IJL). IJL recently showed 69,174 resumes were posted and 170,033 help wanted ads were available.