By Lawrence J. McQuillan, Illinois Policy Institute -
Illinois’ July unemployment rate hit 8.9 percent, up from 8.7 percent in June, the second consecutive monthly increase. Thirty-nine states have a lower unemployment rate than Illinois.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois’ labor force is roughly 6.5 million people. More than half a million of them are unemployed. This is a human tragedy as people struggle to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. It’s also an economic tragedy as human capital sits idle, failing to contribute to the economy.
For Illinois’ unemployment rate to fall to its 2000-2007 pre-recession low of 4.4 percent, businesses in the state need to employ nearly 300,000 more people net. During the past 12 months, new net employment averaged about 7,000 each month.
That means it will take 43 months for Illinois’ unemployment rate to recover to its pre-recession low given the current pace of job creation, assuming no growth in the labor force (see graphic). If you’re unemployed, ask yourself: will I have to wait four years to get a job in Illinois?