With less than three months to go until the November elections, July’s statewide unemployment rate has given incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn reason to boast.

The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for a fifth consecutive month to 6.8 percent from 7.1 in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Illinois Department of Employment Security. One year ago, the state’s unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, marking the largest over-the-year decline in 30 years.

Employers added 11,200 private-sector jobs during July — or 10,300 when government losses are included. What sets last month’s gains apart from the previous four is that growth was due to actual job creation instead of a shrinking workforce, wrote Crain’s Chicago Business‘ Greg Hinz. Additionally, there are 35,600 more nonfarm payroll positions than a year ago, though individuals who have dropped out of the workforce are not included in the statistics.

The last time Illinois saw its unemployment rate at 6.8 percent was in September 2008; the same month the subprime mortgage crisis kicked into high gear with the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.

Perhaps the best news came out of the manufacturing sector, which finally added 3,900 new jobs after a seven-month losing streak. Industries that also had notable gains were professional and business services (5,900) and construction (1,900). Conversely, the largest job losers were in leisure and hospitality (-3,800), government (-900) and information (-500).

Here’s a breakdown of preliminary figures for each industry:

Industry Title Jun-14 Jul-14 Over-the-Month Change 3 Month Avg.
Total Nonfarm      5,814,200 5,824,500 10,300 6,000
Mining 9,900 10,000 100 100
Construction      197,700 199,600 1,900 2,500
Manufacturing     568,400 572,300 3,900 600
Trade, Transportation, & Utilities 1,162,500 1,163,900 1,400 600
Information       97,400 96,900 -500 0
Financial Activities 368,600 370,100 1,500 1,100
Professional and Business Services 892,800 898,700 5,900 1,300
Educational and Health 883,600 884,500 900 1,600
Leisure and Hospitality 547,100 543,300 -3,800 -2,300
Other Services    251,700 251,600 -100 -300
Government         834,500 833,600 -900 900

 

Illinois currently lags 0.6 percentage points behind the national unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, which inched up from 6.1 in June. A major reason for the five-figure job growth could be attributed to the peak of summer; it will be interesting to see how hiring fluctuates when fall arrives.

“The falling unemployment rate seems to be picking up momentum with the warmer weather. That is encouraging even though we know there still is room for improvement,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a press release. “The unevenness in this recovery masks the very promising news of averaging more than 4,400 new jobs each month during the past four years. We need to build on that job growth so that we can help others.”

As expected, Quinn quickly touted July’s jobless numbers during a news conference at a manufacturing plant and through Twitter.

Gov. Pat Quinn tweets about July's unemployment rate.

 

While Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner made no mention of the unemployment report on Twitter, his campaign spokesman, Mike Schrimpf, said it’s too soon to rejoice, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Celebrating today’s job numbers is like cheering a touchdown when you’re down 35 points with two minutes left, said Schrimpf.”

NEXT ARTICLE: Illinois Democrats continue to beat the drum about Rauner’s wealth; national consensus is Quinn is in trouble

 

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