Unemployment in the Sauk Valley was up in January, but the trend continues of better year-over-year numbers since the recession, according to the most recent numbers released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
January jobless numbers were up from December in Lee, Bureau, Carroll and Ogle counties; the rate was unchanged in Whiteside.
Of the five counties, Ogle had the highest jobless rate in January, coming in at 12 percent, up from 10.5 percent the previous month. The lowest was Whiteside, which posted a 9.7 percent rate in both months.
Lee County also came in at single digits, recording a 9.9 percent jobless rate in January, up four-tenths of a percentage point from December.
Bureau remained in double digits, increasing from 10 percent to 11.1 percent from December to January. Carroll County was at 10.5 percent to start the new year, up from 8.3 percent the previous month.
Lee showed the best year-over-year improvement, dropping from 11 percent to 9.9 percent when compared to January 2013.
Weather-related factors typically influence numbers in January, and possibly longer this year given the severity of the winter, IDES spokesman Greg Rivara said.
“These are numbers from the middle of winter, and this year it’s quite possible we could see those effects in February and even March,” Rivara said.
Although the snow might be relegated to a cameo role until next winter, the ensuing thaw is likely to delay construction projects a bit longer.
Varying school schedules in January can create some volatility within the government sector, Rivara said.
“There is the potential in January for government workers tied to education to have different recording dates when they are in and out of school at different times,” Rivara said.
The more important set of numbers, the year-over-year comparisons, show that the trend is continuing for slow but steady improvement in the labor force.
The state unemployment rate peaked during this economic cycle at 12.2 percent in January 2010. Nationally, the high point during that period was 10.6 percent in January 2010. Historically, the state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national rate. Only six times since January 2000 has the state rate been lower.