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Overall Job Growth Still Lags National Average as Illinoisans Leave Labor Force - Unemployment Rate Remains Among the Highest in the Nation

​Contact: Anjali Julka
312-793-9635 w  |May_2016_Statewide.pdfMay_2016_Statewide.pdf

CHICAGO–The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate in May decreased 0.2 percentage points to 6.4 percent and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -2,500 jobs, based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and IDES. The decrease in Illinois’ unemployment rate is largely due to a decline in the labor force. Job growth is still below the national average, with Illinois -50,300 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000.

“We saw job loss and more people leaving the workforce in May,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “While the nation grew 10.9 percent since recovery began, we grew 7.5 percent. As our job growth continues to lag behind the nation, we will continue our efforts to find more opportunities for individuals looking for meaningful employment.”

“Illinois’ economy remains stagnant, and our economic growth stunted compared to the rest of the country. National growth has exceeded Illinois’ by nearly 50 percent over-the-year, leaving us over 50,000 jobs short of peak employment, while the country sets new employment records,” Illinois Department of Commerce Acting Director Sean McCarthy said. “The hard working men and women of Illinois deserve structural reforms that will create jobs and get Illinois growing again.”

In May, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Professional and Business Services (+1,600); Financial Activities (+1,600); and Other Services (+1,200). The two industry sectors with the largest declines in employment were: Educational and Health Services (-2,300) and Government (-2,100).

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +46,400 jobs with the largest gains in Leisure and Hospitality (+18,200); Educational and Health Services (+15,200); and Professional and Business Services (+12,700). Industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines in May include: Manufacturing (-8,400) and Information Services (-3,800). The 0.8 percent over-the-year gain in Illinois is less than the 1.7 percent gain posted by the nation in May.

The state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May 2016, which declined to 4.7 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate stood 0.5 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 decreased -2.8 percent from the prior month to 426,800, up +12.2 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force grew by +2.5 percent in May 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 55,672 resumes were posted and 179,790 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.