(The Center Square) – The latest unemployment numbers show Illinois’ workforce continues to trail the rest of the nation as the Land of Lincoln finished in the bottom five for September.
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate increased 0.3 of a percentage point to 4.4%. While nonfarm payrolls increased by 9,500 in September to a record high and surpassing the pre-pandemic total, there were 2,600 jobs lost in professional and business services, construction and mining.
Only Nevada, Washington D.C., New Jersey and California had higher unemployment rates than Illinois during the month of September. Illinois’ rate of 4.4% lags the national average of 3.8%.
Chris Davis of the National Federation of Independent Business said small businesses throughout the state still need to find workers.
“Small businesses in September were still reporting extreme difficulties in hiring with labor availability, and labor quality is still their number one issue,” Davis told The Center Square. “Forty-three percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill and that’s still up from August.”
A statement from IDES views the numbers as an improvement.
“The Illinois labor market continues to benefit from significant, steady long-term job growth throughout the state, motivating and mobilizing jobseekers eager to reconnect with the workforce,” Deputy Governor Andy Manar said. “IDES and its local workforce partners are at the ready to provide workers and employers with the services they need to find their next career and fill open positions in this prime job market.”
However, many small businesses have tried several tactics to find workers but have yet to be successful, which Davis said could be a sign of things to come.
“I don’t know if there is a silver bullet to this issue, but the fact that the unemployment rate in Illinois increased is not surprising,” Davis said. “What small businesses have been telling us is that a recession is coming, and I think it is at the door.”
According to Davis, higher costs, increased rents, increased input costs and supply chain issues have hindered the ability of these businesses to raise wages to attract workers.