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Illinois unemployment rates unsure

Separate reports reveal different outlooks

Published: Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 1:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 2:30 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security have released the latest figures for Illinois' unemployment rate, and the two reports are contradictory.

The new data from the Labor Bureau show the state's economy is still struggling and failing to create jobs since the recession with unemployment rates is staying flat.

Meanwhile, preliminary but incomplete data released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) shows the state's jobless rate dropped to 6.8 percent. While this sounds like good news, those preliminary numbers came from narrow data that, according to the independent Illinois Policy Institute, did not show Illinois' true economic outlook. They contend the Labor Bureau's reveal the actual unemployment rate.

"By simply looking at the unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, people are not seeing the full picture of how Illinois' economy is performing," IPI Director of Jobs and Growth Michael Lucci said. "The only reason the unemployment rate dropped in July is because of people dropping out of the labor force. Illinois has 170,000 fewer payroll jobs today than before the 2008 recession. While many of our neighbor states have completely recovered from the recession and continued to become stronger, Illinois continues to languish. The most recent unemployment data show that 17,000 Illinoisans gave up and quit the workforce in July. In the last four months, 63,000 Illinoisans have quit looking for work." 

Labor Bureau statistics show Illinois' workforce shrank by 17,100 people during the month of July, which the IBI alleges accounts for the entire drop in the monthly unemployment rate. This paints the false conclusion Illinois’ labor force participation rate fell to a 35-year low in July.

The IBI asserts Illinois has 170,000 fewer jobs than before the recession in 2008, the worst record in the entire United States. In addition Illinois has lost 5,900 private-sector jobs in the first seven months of 2014, giving the state the worst 2014 jobs record in the entire United States.

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