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Berg: Growing Illinois workforce struggles to find jobs




By Austin Berg - 

While more Illinoisans are looking for work, too many are unable to find it.

Illinois is experiencing weak jobs growth, manufacturing is reeling, and the state’s unemployment rate is slowly creeping up, according to a report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES.

While IDES revised numbers from 2015 to show that Illinois lost only 6,300 manufacturing jobs on the year, rather than the previously reported 14,000, it remains the case that manufacturing lost more jobs than any other sector in Illinois.

The IDES numbers also show Illinois’ unemployment rate bumped up to 6.3 percent from 6.1 percent. This was due primarily to workers entering the workforce but being unable to find jobs, according to IDES data.

While it’s a good sign that Illinoisans are feeling confident enough to enter the workforce again, especially given the state’s major problems with workforce dropout over the last few years, too many are entering a state economy that lacks good opportunities. While Illinois’ workforce grew by 32,000 people, the state added 12,000 people to the unemployment rolls in January.

In fact, Illinois has suffered an increase in the number of unemployed people for six consecutive months.

While neighboring states have forged a path to success for their residents, the head-in-the-sand approach taken by Illinois’ legislative leaders has clearly led to economic suffering.Bold reforms are on the table, but little will change until politicians take decisive action.

Austin Berg is a writer for the Illinois Policy Institute.


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