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Sauk Valley jobless rates up in November

Illinois lags nation in job creation

Unemployment rates were up throughout the Sauk Valley in November, despite holding steady statewide and dropping nationally during that period.

The jobless rate in Illinois was 8.3 percent last month, the same as it was in October. Nationally, the jobless rate dropped to 6.6 percent, from 7 percent, during that period.

Bureau County saw the greatest increase in the area, jumping from 8.1 to 9.0 percent from October to November.

Lee County’s jobless rate rose to 9.0 percent in November, up from 8.3 percent the previous month. Ogle, Carroll and Whiteside counties all experienced a 0.5 percentage-point increase in November.

Year over year, jobs were added in seven of the 12 metropolitan areas tracked by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The Rockford and Peoria metro areas were among those that lost jobs since November 2012.

The IDES attributed the November job losses to “a temporary slowdown in global manufacturing demand.” The metro areas experiencing the most significant job losses have large agriculture-related manufacturing employers such as John Deere, Caterpillar and ADM.

Seasonal cutbacks in manufacturing operations are not uncommon at the end of the year, and oftentimes ramp up again after the holidays.

“Manufacturing, farm employers and construction can have big seasonal swings this time of year,” said John Thompson, president and CEO of Lee County Industrial Development Association. “They use seasonal shutdowns to adjust production schedules at the end of the year.”

Local companies do not report layoffs to his office. County and city officials are notified if they are of the mass variety and require official public reporting under provisions of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

“I really haven’t heard of any layoffs locally,” Thompson said. “If there are, hopefully they are just temporary.”

Although some metro areas in Illinois are showing improvement, the state, overall, is lagging behind the national average. Thompson said that is cause for concern.

“We’re not showing the kind of improvement the U.S. is showing,” he said. “If you look back at the reports post-recession, Illinois is not seeing the increasing number of jobs they are seeing in other states.”

Since the recession, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 10 percent in 2009, but remains 1.7 percentage points higher than the national average.

In addition, there is some added anxiety building within the ranks of the state’s unemployed. Extended unemployment insurance benefits ran out for about 82,000 Illinoisans beginning Saturday. An additional 36,000 were to join the program in the first quarter of the new year.

The federal program for long-term job seekers was a casualty of the last budget deal. Congress did not renew it after having extended it 11 times since 2008. For some recipients, the program had extended benefits for up to 47 weeks.

“While today’s job growth allows most newly unemployed individuals to find work after several weeks, the long-term unemployed face additional hurdles,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a news release. “Ending this modest program based on a calendar date, rather than economic principles and job skills, could slow economic growth.”

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