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Illinois Adds 14,700 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Rises to 6.5% - Annual Growth Rate Remains Significantly Below National Average

Contact: Anjali Julka,  312-793-9635,  | March-2016-Statewide.pdfMarch-2016-Statewide.pdf

CHICAGO–The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that Illinois’ unemployment rate in March rose 0.1 percentage points to 6.5 percent and nonfarm payrolls increased by +14,700 jobs, based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and IDES. Illinois surpassed its January 2008 payroll peak by +16,500 jobs but remains -46,100 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000. Illinois continues to lag behind while the nation currently stands 3.9 percent above its prior peak employment level.

“While Illinois experienced job growth in March, the over-the-year growth rate still lags behind the rest of the nation,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Monthly employment numbers are volatile but in order to see true and robust job growth, we need more effective policies in place to help Illinois recover its employment peak.”

“Unemployment in Illinois continues to rise as our state fails to keep pace with the rest of the country in job growth,” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy said. “Industries like manufacturing continue to struggle to regain jobs lost since 2008 - in March alone, 100 manufacturing jobs per day were lost; that’s 100 middle-class families every single day facing the financial stress, hardship and uncertainty of losing a well-paying job. We need to take action on structural reforms that will make Illinois as competitive as it should be to curb the loss of middle-class jobs.”

In March, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Leisure and Hospitality (+6,300); Construction (+4,100) and Financial Activities (+3,200). The two industry sectors with the largest declines in employment were: Manufacturing (-3,100); and Professional and Business Services (-1,400).

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +79,900 jobs with the largest gains in Leisure and Hospitality (+25,500); Educational and Health Services (+21,600); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+16,800). Industry sectors with over-the-year declines in March include: Manufacturing (-7,500) and Information
(-1,900). The 1.3 percent over-the-year gain in Illinois is less than the 2.0 percent gain posted by the nation in March.

The state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for March 2016, which inched up to 5.0 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate stood 0.6 percentage points above the unemployment rate a year ago when it was 5.9 percent. According to IDES analysts, the unemployment rate is increasing in Illinois because of lagging job growth and more workers entering the labor force who are not immediately able to find work.

The number of unemployed workers increased +2.3 percent from the prior month to 429,600 and was up +11.6 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force grew by +2.3 percent in March over the prior year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

To help connect jobseekers to employers who are hiring, IDES’ maintains the state’s largest job search engine (IJL). IJL recently showed that 62,761 resumes were posted and 173,283 help-wanted ads were available.


Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates



Illinois Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs – by Major Industry



  • Monthly 2011 - 2015 labor force data for Illinois, and all other states, have been revised as required by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The monthly historical revisions to state labor force estimates reflect new national benchmark controls, state working-age population controls, seasonal factors, as well as updated total nonfarm jobs and unemployment benefits claims inputs.  Illinois labor force data were also smoothed to eliminate large monthly changes as a result of volatility in the monthly Census Population Survey (CPS) and national benchmarking.  For these reasons, comments and tables citing unemployment rates in previous state news releases/materials might no longer be valid.
  • Monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Illinois and the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division are available here: Illinois & Chicago Metropolitan Area Unemployment Rates
  • Monthly 1994 – 2014 unadjusted and seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll data for Illinois have been revised. To control for potential survey error, the estimates are benchmarked annually to universal counts derived primarily from unemployment insurance tax reports.
  • Not seasonally adjusted jobs data with industry detail are available at Not Seasonally Adjusted Jobs Data. “Other Services” include activities in three broad categories: Personal and laundry; repair and maintenance; and religious, grant making, civic and professional organizations.  Seasonally adjusted employment data for subsectors within industries are not available.
About IDES - IDES encourages employment by connecting employers to jobseekers, provides unemployment insurance benefits to eligible individuals, produces labor market data and protects taxpayers from unemployment insurance fraud. Visit the Department’s website at for more information and join IDES on Facebook.