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B-N Jobless Rate Up, Workforce Number Down

State officials reported lower employed and higher unemployed numbers for February.

An improving coronavirus picture in February failed to nudge unemployment lower in Bloomington- Normal in February.

The jobless rate remained stubbornly high compared to the last pre-pandemic month of last year. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) released Thursday show the Twin City area jobless rate was 5.1% in February.

That's up 2.3 points from the same month last year.

IDES said the Leisure and Hospitality, Government, and Professional and Business Service sectors had steep year-over-year shrinkage.

The overall size of the workforce in February was 86,200, down about 6,300 jobs.

Employment is up compared to January of this year, possibly from seasonal variations and possibly because of increased hiring at Rivian -- but down from each month in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The number of nonfarm jobs decreased year over year in all 14 Illinois metropolitan areas in February, according to IDES.

Preliminary data also showed the unemployment rate increased over-the-year in all metro areas

“As expected, the global, national, and state impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still very present and the effects continue to linger on the economy and the workforce,” said Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes. “This is why the Pritzker administration is grateful the federal government acted quickly to roll out the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act with critical extensions and program continuity.”

The metro areas which had the largest over-the-year percentage decreases in total nonfarm jobs were the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division, the Elgin Metro Division, and the Kankakee MSA.

Three metro areas recorded their lowest total nonfarm jobs for the month of February on record (dating back to 1990). A methodology change that year prevents valid earlier comparisons.

In the past year, the unemployment rate increased in all 14 metropolitan areas; the metro areas with the largest unemployment rate increases were the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division (+5.1 points to 8.8%), the Rockford MSA (+4.8 points to 9.7%) and the Decatur MSA (+4.0 points to 8.4%).

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