Wages for Bloomington-Normal and Peoria workers were headed in very different directions when the pandemic hit like a freight train, according to newly released economic data.
McLean County saw the highest average weekly wage growth of any large metro area in the country (No. 1 out of 357) between January and March, rising 13.3% from a year ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported last week. Peoria County, by contrast, saw the largest decrease in wages year-over-year, down 12.8%, BLS reported.
With the lag in reporting, these wage levels do not yet reflect the impact of the pandemic that wiped away thousands of jobs and cut wages across central Illinois starting in mid-March. But it does point to the state of the economy for workers right before it hit.
In McLean County, the average weekly wage rose to $1,261. The biggest contributor was a 21.9% average increase (or $491) in the financial activities sector, BLS reported. That includes finance and insurance jobs; both State Farm and Country Financial are based in Bloomington.
Peoria’s average weekly wage fell to $1,317. Manufacturing had the largest impact, with an average weekly wage decrease of $1,253 (-29.2%) over the year, BLS reported. Manufacturing is one of Peoria County’s largest economic sectors, with 13% of workers and higher average wages than in other industries.
Average weekly wages for the nation increased to $1,222, a 3.3% increase over the year, BLS reported.