Illinois employment COVID recovery lags nation – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Compared with October 2020, total nonfarm employment in the state has grown nearly 200,000, moving from 5.715 million to 5.918 million. That’s good news. So is the fact that unemployment rates are down, with the Chicago/Naperville/Arlington Heights metro now at 5.4%, compared with 8.8% in October last year.

But the figures look considerably different if you go back one more year, to pre-pandemic October 2019.   Compared with then, according to data the state didn’t include in its release, Illinois as a whole is still short more than 250,000 of the total employment of 6.176 million it had then.

Put a different way, looking at the three Octobers as a group, the state is back to just 95.82% of the employment it had two years ago. The figure for metro Chicago is almost the same, 95.02%.

With some other regions of the country now above their pre-pandemic employment level, Illinois is lagging, says Orphe Divounguy, a frequent critic of state policies who is chief economist at the Illinois Policy Institute (and a Crain’s columnist).

Using somewhat different time periods, Divounguy says his research indicates total state employment dropped 13.5% (by 833,000 jobs) from January 2010 to the worst of the pandemic in April 2010; and since then, it has grown 10.1% (537,000 jobs). The U.S. as a whole has done better, he says, with employment dropping 14.7% peak-to-trough and since growing 13.9%.

“The return to work in Illinois—for those workers most affected, women and minorities—hasn’t been as strong as other parts of the country,” he says.

The state didn’t comment on that. But it’s clear that a good chunk of the lag is in Chicago’s still-recovering convention, hospitality and tourism business.

Whether there’s more to it—Illinois traditionally lags the country in recovering from recessions—certainly is something that ought to be debated in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s upcoming re-election campaign. In the meantime, the state’s recovery from COVID most certainly is a work in progress.

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via “Illinois Politics” – Google News https://ift.tt/2TO8iP3

November 29, 2021 at 02:08PM

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