New jobs created; economists continue to point to Illinois’ lagging job growth. The Illinois Department of Employment Security’s February 2017 unemployment report, showed the Prairie State’s jobless rate dropping from 5.7% to 5.4%. The current number was measured by the widely-followed U-3 ratio; other methods of measuring unemployment and underemployment also count people in other categories, such as involuntary part-time employment. These alternative metrics show much higher jobless numbers in Illinois.
Illinois has not created nearly as many new jobs as have neighboring and other U.S. states. In a pattern of lagging recovery from the severe recession of 2009-10, Illinois has created only 47,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs over the most recently measured twelve-month period – job growth of 0.8%. Poor numbers are concentrated in many Downstate communities and metropolitan areas, with unemployment of 11.1% posted for January 2017 in greater Rockford, 7.7% in the Decatur area and 7.0% in Carbondale. In fact, Illinois has virtually the same number of nonfarm payroll jobs as the number of employment positions that were posted and paid more than 16 years ago, during the previous job peak of September 2000.
U.S. Census estimates that Chicago metropolitan area lost 19,570 in 2016 fiscal year. The period from July 2015 through June 2016 showed a slight dip in the population of the counties that make up the Chicago metropolitan area, from 9.53 million to 9.51 million. Although the decline during this twelve-month period was only 0.2%, it ran counter to the overall pattern of growth in the population of the United States. The decline coincided with patterns of stagnant job creation in Illinois as a whole, with significant outmigration by many demographic categories of former Illinoisans to other states. Groups leaving Illinois include young adults searching for employment elsewhere.
The 9.5-million Chicago metropolitan area, as defined by the Census Bureau, is a 16-county region that includes small sections of Indiana and Wisconsin. Centering on Cook County, the area is defined by the federal government for business and identity purposes. Of the 10 largest metro areas in the United States, however, only the Chicago area lost residents.
Revised figure shows 18,700 more jobs in December 2016 than previously thought. The revised number, from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), indicates that Illinois’ private-sector economy may be in better shape than has been publicly reported. Preliminary figures previously reported by IDES showed a net loss of 16,700 jobs in December, but a revision to these numbers erased this job loss and indicates that Illinois actually gained 2,000 jobs in the same month.
The problems noted by analysts upon release of the initial December 2016 figures remain in place. In particular, the “Christmas sales season” in job-creating retail activity was affected once again this year by the migration of significant transaction volumes to the Internet.
Although the revised numbers show Illinois’ job market continuing to grow slowly, the Land of Lincoln continues to underperform most other U.S. states in terms of economic growth and activity. Illinois continues to have fewer jobs than it did at its peak unemployment level, reached in September 2000 prior to 9/11 and the collapse of the so-called “dot com” boom. Illinois added 1,700 jobs in January 2017, maintaining its unemployment rate of 5.7%.
Illinois House Education Task Force holds first meeting. The 26-member bipartisan Task Force has been asked to develop proposals that can be offered to the General Assembly as legislative language to implement the recommendations of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. Earlier this year, the Reform Commission proposed that Illinois take steps to reduce the dependence of Illinois school districts on property tax revenues. Many Illinois lawmakers, citizens, and taxpayers believe that the current pattern of means used to fund Illinois schools is outdated in relation to other states.
The panel held its first meeting on Tuesday, March 14. Representative Bob Pritchard, the House Republican spokesman on the Task Force, called for key revisions to the Illinois school funding formula. The House Education Task Force is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, March 21.
The Aurora Public Library, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Fox Valley PAC are sponsoring informal meet-and-greets for voters to get to know mayoral, aldermanic, park district and District 129 and 131 board candidates vying for seats in the April 4 election.
“Today’s libraries are sites for civic engagement,” said Daisy Porter-Reynolds, executive director of Aurora Public Library. “I’m happy we can provide these opportunities for Aurora residents to speak with the candidates and make informed decisions ahead of election day.”
All of the meet-and-greets will begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude at 8 p.m.
Eleven Fox Valley Park District candidates vying for seven seats have been invited to the first meet-and-greet on Monday, March 20 at the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library at 101 S. River St. This will be the first elected board in the park district’s 70-year history.
The candidates (and their districts) are:
1st District: Charles Anderson, Aurora; Matt Hicks Jr., Aurora
2nd District: Jerry Butler, Aurora; Mary Anne Cummings, Aurora; LuAnne Kelsey, Montgomery; Elizabeth “Beth” Waller, Montgomery
3rd District: Cynthia G. Penne, Aurora; Giovanni Santana, Aurora; Holly Scholz, Aurora; Roger Schnorr, Aurora
At-Large: Alexander G. Alexandrou, Aurora.
The board members will be elected from geographic areas dividing the 65-square-mile park district. One at-large seat will be elected from the entire park district.
A Wednesday, March 22 meet-and-greet will feature West Aurora School Board candidates at the library’s West Branch, 233 S. Constitution Drive.
Four candidates are vying for three open seats in that race: Rich Kerns and Christopher Sparks, both of North Aurora, and incumbent Valerie Dykstra and Joseph Grisson, both of Aurora.
Refreshments will be served. Call (630) 264-4125 for information.
Alderman-At-Large Richard Irvin and Assistant Chief of Staff Rick Guzman placed first and second, respectively, in the Feb. 28 Primary Election, according to unofficial results. The two will face off in the Municipal Election on April 4. According to the Chicago Tribune, with 116 of 116 precincts reporting, race results were
Richard Irvin: 3,502 votes (31.8%)
Rick Guzman: 3,131 votes (28.4%)
Linda Chapa LaVia: 2,821 votes (25.6%)
Mike Saville: 1,566 votes (14.2%)
The Chamber and its partners are scheduling a meet-and-greet opportunity with Irvin and Guzman for later this month. Other meet-and-greets are being discussed include the following races: Alderman At-Large, Tenth Ward Alderman, District 131 and District 129 School Boards, and Fox Valley Park districts 2 and 3.