|Blo-No jobless rate down last month|
|Written by Allie Maher, Daily Vidette Senior Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 29 November 2012 15:44|
For another month, the unemployment rate has dropped in Bloomington-Normal and overall in Illinois.
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the October unemployment rate in Bloomington-Normal was at 6.6 percent, down from 7.3 percent in October last year. The Illinois October 2012 rate was 8.8 percent, down 2.6 points from the state’s unemployment peak in January 2010.
Ken Springer, senior associate for research and economic data for the Economic Development Council, calls the decrease an occasion for cautious optimism.
“The change is in line with what we have seen over the past couple of years in that it’s good news; however, it’s not an amazing increase,” Springer said. “In a broad sense, our economy is slowly improving.”
Springer attributes the improvement of the local economy, and thus the decrease in the unemployment rate, to a strong increase in retail sales and increasing home sales.
“The retail numbers on a quarter-to-quarter basis in Bloomington-Normal have been very positive the past two years,” Springer added.
The sale of existing homes has increasingly improved over the past two years as well. In 2011, 1,539 homes were sold. At the end of September this year, 1,858 homes had been sold. Almost every month saw at least a 20 percent increase in home sales.
Additionally, for the first time since the beginning of the recession, new single-family home sales have been gaining strength, Springer added.
State officials say rates in other metro areas were at their lowest levels for the month of October since 2008.
The IDES press release stated the metro areas with the largest drop in unemployment were as follows: Rockford (-1.8 points to 10.8 percent), Kankakee-Bradley (-1.5 points to 10.2 percent), Metro East (-1.5 points to 8.2 percent) and Chicago-Joliet-Naperville (-1.4 points to 8.4 percent).
Due to the central location of Bloomington-Normal, the region is very interconnected to other metros in the state and other metro area economies, Springer said.
“If there’s an excess labor supply in Chicago it’s not very difficult for somebody to move an hour and a half south in order to become a part of the labor force down here where maybe our employment picture is a little bit more rosy.
There is certainly interplay through the sheer mobility of workers,” Springer added.
IDES data shows that between October 2011 and October 2012 non-farm jobs increased by 200 in Bloomington, 800 in Champaign, 2,000 in Peoria and 24,000 in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metropolitan area.
Additionally, as of the third quarter of 2011, 3,122 new jobs were created and there were 9,048 new hires locally.
As the holiday season goes into full swing, Springer encourages shoppers to shop locally in order to further help the local economy by “capturing those dollars here.”