STERLING – Unemployment rates rose in February in the Sauk Valley.
In Whiteside, Lee, Ogle, Carroll and Bureau counties, the unemployment rates were higher in February than in the same month last year, according to data released Thursday by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
In Whiteside, Lee, Ogle and Carroll counties, the jobless rate was higher than in January.
In Whiteside County, the jobless rate in February was 11.3 percent, up from 11.0 percent in January and up from 10.7 percent last February.
In Lee County, the unemployment rate in February was 11.4 percent, up from 11.1 percent in January and up from 10.9 percent in February last year.
February was the second month in a row the unemployment rates rose in Whiteside and Lee counties.
Corinne Bender is economic director of Morrison Area Development Corp.
Bender said she is not sure why the unemployment rates rose locally, and that Morrison has seen economic growth.
“To me, it seems like things are on the upswing,” she said.
Businesses are borrowing more money to invest, and business owners and consumers have more confidence, she said.
For example, Resthave Nursing & Retirement Home is building an assisted living and skilled care addition, she said. Also, Morrison’s hospital and three clinics all are “very busy,” which is remarkable in a city of 4,200, she said.
“I think we’re going to be a mecca for health care,” she said.
Whiteside County Senior Center is serving the city with its transportation system, which she called “a big plus, too.”
“The population is getting older, so those kinds of facilities will be in demand,” she said.
The statewide unemployment rate also was higher over the year and over the month. The February rate of 10.1 percent was an increase from 8.6 percent in January and from 9.7 percent in February of last year.
The national jobless rate, however, was down from last year. The rate dropped from 8.8 percent in February 2012 to 8.5 percent in February. The national jobless rate was higher in February than the 7.6 percent rate in January.
Below are unemployment rates for area counties in February, January, and February 2012.
February: 12.0 percent
January: 12.1 percent
February 2012: 11.6 percent
February: 11.7 percent
January: 11.2 percent
February 2012: 11.1 percent
February: 11.4 percent
January: 11.1 percent
February 2012: 10.9 percent
February: 13.4 percent
January: 12.9 percent
February 2012: 12.9 percent
February: 11.3 percent
January: 11.0 percent
February 2012: 10.7 percent