News and Announcements - Article

Job Growth Remains Below National Average - May Unemployment Rate Dips Slightly

​Contact: Bob Gough: Bob.Gough@illinois.gov | 217-685-4454 mobile​ | June2017Statewide.pdfPDF Version

CHICAGO–The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate declined -0.1 percentage points to 4.6 percent in May and nonfarm payrolls increased by +2,400 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. April job growth was revised little to show a decrease of -7,300 jobs rather than the preliminary estimate of -7,200 jobs. 

May’s modest monthly payroll gain kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. Payroll growth has been sluggish thus far this year.

 “Illinois remains -23,300 jobs short of reaching its prior peak employment reached in September 2000,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “If Illinois had grown at the National average over that time, the State would have an additional 650,000 jobs.”

"We hear from companies every week that are concerned by the current business climate in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “We need to implement common sense reforms that would lead to booming job growth and expansion of opportunities across our state.”

In May, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Construction (+4,000); Education and Health Services (+3,700); and Information Services (+900). The largest payroll declines were in the following sectors: Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-3,700); Government (-2,500); and Professional and Business Services (-700).

Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +34,700 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in May: Education and Health Services (+19,200); Professional and Business Services (+13,400); Financial Activities (+9,500). Industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines include: Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-7,700); Manufacturing (-1,800); and Construction (-1,700). The +0.6 percent over-the-year gain in Illinois is less than one-half as strong as the +1.6 percent gain posted by the nation in May.

The state’s unemployment rate is +0.3 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May 2017, which decreased to 4.3 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -1.3 percentage points from a year ago when it was 5.9 percent. At 4.6 percent, the Illinois jobless rate stands at its lowest level since February 2007, after having decreased for four consecutive months and is down -1.1 percentage points since January 2017.

The number of unemployed workers decreased -2.9 percent from the prior month to 298,100, down -23.0 percent over the same month for the prior year. This brings the number of unemployed workers to its lowest level since December 2006. The labor force decreased -0.3 percent over-the-month and declined by -0.9 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 IllinoisJoblink.com (IJL). IJL recently showed 65,472 posted resumes with 181,939 jobs available. 

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
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Illinois Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs – by Major Industry
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  • Monthly 2012 - 2016 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 1990 – 2016 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. “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 the IDES website for more information. You can also follow IDES on Twitter and Facebook.