Jobless rate down in Mercer County compared to a year ago

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The jobless rate in Mercer County is the only area county to show a drop in unemployment in the year-to-year comparison. The jobless rate in the county of 5.9 percent is down from 6.3 percent in October of last year.

The September unemployment rate in Mercer County was 5.2 percent.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that Illinois’ nonfarm payroll employment gained +14,100 jobs and the unemployment rate in October held at 5.4 percent, based on preliminary data released by the Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). October’s gain follows four consecutive monthly declines. Illinois’ average job growth since the employment recovery began in January 2010 remains below the national average, however, and employment will not recover from the 2007-2009 recession until December 2016, according to IDES analysts. The nation is currently 3.1 percent above its prior peak level of employment.

“For 2015, job growth this month was the strongest since February and it is positive that we reversed the four-month decline preceding these numbers. Our job growth rate, however, continues to lag behind the nation,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “While the unemployment rate remained unchanged in October, our workforce participation rate edged up slightly as more people entered the labor force and more people found jobs during the month.”

IDES’ (IJL) program, which helps jobseekers connect with hiring companies, recently showed that 62,847 resumes were posted and 169,551 help-wanted ads were available. The Department continues to conduct outreach through employer seminars and hiring fairs to better connect jobseekers to employers.

The state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for October, which dipped to 5.0 percent. The BLS revised September nonfarm payroll employment data, which showed a moderate drop (-3,000) in Illinois rather than the preliminary estimate of a larger decline (-6,900). In October, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Educational and Health Care (+7,900); Leisure and Hospitality (+3,500); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+1,800). The two industry sectors with the largest declines in employment were Manufacturing (-1,900); and Professional and Business Services (-1,100). 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.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +40,300 jobs with the largest gains in Professional and Business Services (+21,700); Education and Health Services (+16,300); and Construction (+7,000). A few sectors posted small over-the-year declines in October but the three largest were: Manufacturing (-10,000); Government (-1,800) and Mining (-1,100). In October, the unemployment rate stood 0.9 percentage points below the unemployment rate a year ago when it was 6.3 percent. The number of unemployed workers increased +0.2 percent from the prior month to 353,400 and was down -14.1 percent over the same month for the prior year.

“While October’s job growth is good news for working families in Illinois, after four straight months of net job loss we cannot become complacent,” Illinois Department of Commerce Director Jim Schultz said. “Unemployment in Illinois remains above the national average, we continue to bleed manufacturing jobs, and current job growth puts full employment recovery over a year away. We can hasten Illinois’ economic recovery by enacting significant structural reforms that improve our state’s business climate and encourage job creation.”

Area unemployment rates

October 2015    September 2015    October 2014

Mercer         5.9    5.2    6.3

Henry        6.3    5.2    6.1

Henderson    5.3    5.1    5.2

Rock Island    6.9    5.8    6.7

Warren        5.3    4.8    5.3