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As the U.S. adds jobs, Illinois continues to lag in unemployment numbers

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(The Center Square) – Illinois and the rest of the country added jobs in March, but the state’s unemployment rate is not improving.

The economy added 303,000 jobs in March, nearly 100,000 more than consensus expectations. Illinois’ non-farm payrolls increased by 12,700.

The national unemployment rate slightly fell to 3.8%, hovering near a historically low level, while the percentage of Americans participating in the workforce increased.

Illinois’ unemployment rate in March remained at 4.8%, unchanged from February. That is compared to 4.2% in March 2023. The number of unemployed workers was 312,200, up 15.5% over the same month one year ago.

“Growth in payroll jobs throughout industry sectors continues to fuel the strength of the Illinois labor market and statewide economy,” said Deputy Governor Andy Manar.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently acknowledged that further expansion of the labor market isn’t necessarily a concern for the Fed’s fight against inflation.

Researcher Sean Higgins with the Competitive Enterprise Institute said despite the robust job numbers, worker shortages persist.

“It appears to be that way, and one theory is there is a lot of immigration coming into the country and taking a lot of these jobs and then explaining why the hiring continues to be high while a lot of the players say they are struggling to find people,” said Higgins.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of March, the number of employed foreign-born workers climbed to a record high of 31.1 million.

In Illinois in March, the industry sectors with the largest over-the-month job gains included: Government (+3,300), Leisure and Hospitality (+2,900), and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+2,400). The industry sectors with monthly payroll job declines included Financial Activities (-1,100), and Mining (-100).

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