Despite adding more than 18,000 jobs in February, Illinois’ unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percent to 6.4 percent.
Evelina Loescher, labor market information director with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said there was a big increase of jobs in February but also a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, something that indicates people are having trouble finding work.
“What happens is when people are entering the labor force in large numbers, as we’ve been seeing for two months now, it’s taking them a little longer to find a job,” Loescher said.
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IDES Director Jeff Mays said the state remains one of only three states that have not recovered jobs lost from the recession. Illinois remains more than 61,000 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000, according to the department.
The U.S. unemployment rate held at 4.9 percent for February, 1.5 percentage points below Illinois’ rate.
Loescher said she doesn’t have February data from neighboring states, but previous months indicate Illinois still is struggling to catch up.
“Throughout this recovery we have been lagging most of the neighboring states as well,” Loescher said.
Jim Schultz, the director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the state is not creating enough jobs and continues to lose critical middle-class manufacturing jobs.
“Illinois needs structural reforms that will stimulate growth and create jobs for hardworking Illinois families,” Schultz said in a statement.