The Illinois unemployment rate fell for the third consecutive month to reach 7.5 percent in May and is at the lowest level since November 2008, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
May marks nine consecutive months that the number of people working has increased and the combined April-May reduction of 0.9 point in the unemployment rate is the largest two-month drop since this data series began 38 years ago in 1976.
The national unemployment rate for May was 6.3 percent.
The unemployment rate is in line with other economic indicators. First-time jobless claims have been trending lower for the past four years and in May were 25.5 percent lower than one year ago. Numbers from the independent Conference Board’s Help Wanted OnLine Survey show Illinois employers in May advertised for more than 203,000 jobs (192,500 seasonally adjusted) and 85 percent sought full-time work.
Employers added 242,700 private sector jobs since job creation returned to Illinois. Leading sectors are professional and business services (105,000, up 13.4 percent); education and health services (59,000, up 7.2 percent); and leisure and hospitality (38,300, up 7.5 percent). Government continues to lead job loss (23,100 fewer positions, down 2.7 percent.)
In May, the number of unemployed individuals fell 23,600 (4.6 percent) to 492,400. Total unemployed has fallen 261,100 (34.7 percent) since when the rate peaked at 11.4 percent. The rate fell even though preliminary estimates indicated 2,600 fewer jobs in May but 19,200 more jobs than one year ago. The unemployment rate and job creation numbers can move independently of each other because they come from different surveys.
The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and seeking employment. A person who exhausts benefits, or is ineligible, still will be reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.
Historically, the national unemployment rate is lower than the state rate. The state rate has been lower than the national rate only six times since January 2000. This includes periods of economic expansion and contraction.