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February 21, 2019

1/29/2019 1:29:00 PM
Crawford, area jobless rates inch upward
It was a small increase, but the unemployment rates of Crawford and neighboring counties went up in December.

According the Illinois Department of Employment Security, 6.2 percent of the county's work force was unemployed and actively seeking new jobs during the month. This was up from 5.3 percent in December 2017 and 5 percent in November.

Clark County posted a jobless rate of 5.8 percent in December. This was up from 4.3 percent a year earlier and 4.7 percent the previous month.

Lawrence County, at 6.9 percent, was up from 5.8 percent in 2017 and 5.9 percent in November.

Jasper County's rate was 5.2 percent. This was up from 4.6 percent a year earlier and 4.4 percent a month earlier.

In Indiana, Vigo County's December jobless rate was 4.6 percent. This was up from 3.7 percent in 2017 but unchanged from November.

Sullivan County reported a 4.5-percent rate, up slightly from 4.2 percent the previous December, but down from 4.6 percent the previous month.

Knox County's rate was 3.3 percent. This was up from 3.1 percent in 2017, but down from 3.7 percent in November.

The overall statewide rate for Illinois in December was 4.4 percent. In December 2017, the rate was 4.7 percent. It was 4.1 percent in November.

The Indiana statewide rate was 3.4 percent, up from 3.1 percent in 2017 but down from 3.7 percent in November.

Nationally, 3.7 percent of the work force was unemployed in December. This is down from 3.9 percent in 2017, but up from 3.5 percent in November.

Unemployment rates increased over-the-year in December in 13 of Illinois's metropolitan areas and decreased in one, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the IDES.

Data also show nonfarm jobs increased in 12 of the metropolitan areas.

"The new administration is committed to growing the economy and creating good jobs in regions across the state," said Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes.

"Gov. [J.B.] Prizker has taken action in his first weeks in office to support working families and help prepare workers for employment in growing industries," Hynes added.

"Our top priority is getting the state's economy back on track and the governor looks forward to continuing to work with business leaders and workers to build a thriving state."

Illinois businesses added jobs in 12 metro areas, with the largest percentage increases in Kankakee, Lake-Kenosha, Davenport-Moline-Rock Island and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights.

The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas included transportation, warehousing and utilities, education and health dervices, leisure and hospitality. mining and construction, manufacturing, professional and business services and wholesale trade.

The Illinois rate stood at 12.2 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in January 2010 at its peak.

The number of people seeking jobless benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since November 1969, a sign the job market remains strong despite the partial government shutdown that just ended.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid declined 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped 5,500 to 215,000.

The tally of furloughed federal employees requesting unemployment aid jumped to 25,419, more than double the previous week. Those figures are tracked in a separate category and aren't included in the overall figures.

Weekly applications for jobless aid are a proxy for layoffs. The data suggests employers are confident enough about the economy to hold onto their workers. The unemployment claims data was one of the few economic reports still being released by the government because the Labor Department was funded before the shutdown and was still open.

Many companies are desperate for workers to respond to solid customer demand, which makes them reluctant to cut staff, even if something like the shutdown disturbs their business.

Most economists forecast that the shutdown will weigh on the economy in the first three months of the year. Growth could slow to a 1.5 percent to 2 percent annual pace in the first quarter, down from 3.4 percent in the final three months of last year.

Last month, employers engaged in a burst of hiring, adding 312,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent from 3.7 percent. But that increase mostly reflected a positive trend - a surge of Americans coming off the sidelines to look for work. Not all immediately found jobs, which lifted the number of unemployed.

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