According to March 2014 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois is the third-worst state in the country for unemployment rate. But that’s progress! According to February figures, Illinois was second-worst, ahead of only Rhode Island. Now, Illinois has jumped ahead of Nevada as well.
As you can see in the map below, Illinois still has 8.4 percent unemployment. One thing to note with that figure is that it is according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The 8.4 percent figure put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a seasonally adjusted rate. For the Illinois counties’ unemployment rate, IDES uses the non-seasonally adjusted rate, which, in February, was 9.4 percent. IDES has not yet released March figures.
While Illinois is still in the red, literally, we just have to look to the west for low unemployment rates. Across the country, the lowest rates can be found in the Great Plains led by North Dakota’s 2.6 percent rate.
Unemployment rates <4.0 are green.
Unemployment rates 4.0-4.9 are light blue.
Unemployment rates 5.0-5.9 are yellow.
Unemployment rates 6.0-6.9 are gray.
Unemployment rates 7.0-7.9 are orange.
Unemployment rates >7.9 are red.
While Illinois’ state rate is now 8.4 percent, the majority of counties are over that rate. The ten municipalities with the lowest unemployment rates in February (the North Shore suburbs are well-represented) are all under the 8.4 percent figure, but the ten municipalities with the highest unemployment rates are higher than that number. Much higher.
Illinois still is struggling, even to the point of receiving attention from The Wall Street Journal. Chicago is in need of pension reform and other municipalities from around the state are waiting in line for pension reform as well. But at least from February to March, seeing the unemployment rate drop from 8.4 to 8.7 percent stands as good news.
Even if Illinois still has the third-worst unemployment rate. We take what we can get.