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Area jobless rates on rise in December

Bureau County sees full percentage-point spike

Published: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Seasonal factors were at play as unemployment edged higher throughout the region in December.

Bureau County saw a full percentage-point increase from the previous month, jumping from 9 to 10 percent. Seasonal movement in the retail and agriculture sectors were likely to blame for the December spike, county economic development leaders said.

A Walmart Distribution Center in Spring Valley is Bureau County’s largest employer, with anywhere from 875 to more than 1,000 people working there at various times during the year. Large retailers tend to ramp up holiday staffing in early fall, and by December, no longer need as many temporary workers.

“Walmart probably has something to do with the numbers,” said Debb Ladgenski, Spring Valley economic development director, and a member of the county’s economic development team. “There are a lot of seasonal workers there for the holidays, and things are already winding down in December.”

Pete Nelson, another economic development team member from Princeton, said agriculture also likely was a factor.

“It was a later harvest this year, and we had some pretty amazing yields here,” Nelson said. “More people were hired for harvest this year, and now those ag-related activities have evaporated.”

That includes such companies as a large Pioneer Seed plant in Princeton and Ag View FS, which supplies ag chemicals and fuel for drying operations.

There were no big swings in the county manufacturing base, Nelson said.

“I don’t know of any significant factory layoffs,” Nelson said. “I don’t think that contributed.”

While Bureau County saw the largest increase of area jobless in December, Ogle County still lays claim to the area’s highest unemployment rate. Ogle’s jobless rate jumped from 9.8 percent in November to 10.5 percent in December.

Smaller increases were seen in Whiteside, Lee and Carroll counties during December. Whiteside was up three-tenths of a percentage point. Lee and Carroll saw half-point increases.

Statewide, the jobless rate rose from 8.3 percent to 8.6 percent in December. Online job opening advertising is an area tracked by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. That number came in at a robust 215,000, IDES said.

“The number of job openings show that Illinois employers are ready to hire, if they can find the right candidate,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said.

Rowell attributed the high number of openings to a skills gaps created by the recession, and the willingness of job candidates to hold out for higher wages.

Job seekers might want to know that the most advertised jobs were for truck drivers, registered nurses, retail sales clerks, retail sales supervisors, and marketing managers.

Area jobless

Listed by: Dec. 2013, Nov. 2013, Dec. 2012

Whiteside County

9.7%; 9.4%; 9.1%

Lee County

9.5%; 9.0%; 9.1%

Ogle County

10.5%; 9.8%; 10.4%

Carroll County

8.3%; 7.8%; 8.8%

Bureau County

10.0%; 9.0%; 9.6%


8.6%; 8.3%; 8.6%


6.5%; 6.6%; 7.6%

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