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Numbers hold steady in Sauk Valley

Reports delayed by partial government shutdown

Despite a 2-month wait since the release of the last county unemployment statistics, numbers throughout the Sauk Valley haven’t changed much during that time.

A combined report for September and October was released Thursday, as the Illinois Department of Employment Security played catch-up from the partial government shutdown. Federal Bureau of Labor statistics activity came to a standstill from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16. That information is needed by state agencies to compile unemployment reports.

Both Lee and Whiteside counties saw their jobless rates increase by one-tenth of a percentage point from September to October.

Lee County’s rate inched up from 8.7 to 8.8 percent during that period. Whiteside’s jobless rate moved from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent.

The year-over-year movement was also marginal in both counties. Lee County’s jobless rate in October 2012 was a mirror-image at 8.3 percent. In Whiteside County, October of last year was slightly lower at 8.6 percent.

The highest unemployment rate in the region still belongs to Ogle County. It was 9.2 percent in both September and October, which was an improvement from its 9.7 percent rate from October 2012.

Both Carroll and Bureau counties saw year-over-year drops in their jobless rates. Carroll dropped from 7.5 percent to 7.3 percent from September to October, while Bureau saw a slight increase from 8 percent to 8.1 percent month to month.

The numbers held steady during the period throughout most of the state, according to IDES Communications Manager Greg Rivara.

“The local data was very similar across the state for October,” Rivara said. “There were minor movements up or down, and the reasons were similar in many localities.”

Downward movements in certain state metro areas, particularly Peoria and Decatur, were tied to a global economic slowdown that has affected larger companies like Caterpillar and John Deere.

Rivara said there is positive movement with job growth statewide. In the past 46 months, the state has seen 34 months of job growth, with only 12 months of losses. Illinois gained 10,300 jobs in September and 15,400 in October – the state’s largest 2-month increase since May 2010.

“We’re seeing sustained, steady growth,” Rivara said. “It’s coming at a deliberate pace, but our reports indicate it should continue.”

Congressional gridlock could pose a threat to local economic growth, IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a news release Thursday.

“Our overall economic growth will be slowed if Congress does not continue unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed as it approaches another federal budget deadline in January,” Rowell said.

Seasonal factors usually come into play at the beginning of the year, when construction activity slows for the winter, and temporary holiday retail jobs dry up. Retail activity was slightly better statewide during October.

The local data is always preliminary when first released. The 2013 revised data will not be available until April. Rivara said that when the revised data came out for 2012, it showed significantly more growth.

“It will be interesting to see if that trend continues,” he said.

Jobless rates

Listed by Oct. 2013; Sept. 2013; Oct. 2012

Whiteside County: 8.8%; 8.7 %; 8.6%

Lee County: 8.3%; 8.2%; 8.3%

Ogle County: 9.2%; 9.2%; 9.7%

Carroll County: 7.3%; 7.5%; 7.8%

Bureau County: 8.1%; 8.0%; 8.5%

Illinois: 8.3%; 8.3%; 8.3%

U.S.:7.0%; 7.0%; 7.5%

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