State unemployment down, but above national average
SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois economy has added 59,100 jobs over the past 12 months, while the overall unemployment rate dropped only a tenth of a point, to 4.3 percent, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday.
The preliminary, seasonally-adjusted numbers for February showed the state's jobless rate was still higher than the national average of 3.8 percent.
Compared with January, the total employment number was down by 12,600 jobs, which IDES officials said was largely due to the unusually cold weather in February. The biggest job losses over the month were in the construction industry; trade, transportation and utilities; and the leisure and hospitality sector.
Compared with February 2018, however, total nonfarm employment in the state grew by about 1 percent, although that, too, was behind the national average of 1.7 percent.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration said it will work to improve the job numbers in the future.
"The administration is committed to putting Illinois on firm fiscal footing and growing the economy statewide," Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes said in a statement. "We are focused on making the investments we need to lift up the middle class, create jobs, and attract businesses to Illinois to create the long-term growth we need."
For the year, Thursday's report showed there were overall job gains in nearly every employment sector, led by education and health services, which added 13,800 jobs. That was followed by trade, transportation and utilities, which added 12,100 jobs, and professional and business services, which added 11,400 jobs.
The only two employment sectors to report net job losses over the year were the information industry, which includes the news media, where the job count was down by 2,300. The construction industry also showed a net loss of 300 jobs.
IDES will release local and metropolitan-area unemployment figures on March 28.