Unemployment_10/1_kh, Illinois unemployment drops in August

By Gus Bode

Jackson County has lowest unemployment rates in Southern Illinois

The Illinois unemployment rates dropped sharply in August, but are still considerably above the national rate.

Unemployment dropped five-tenths of a point, from 6.7 percent to 6.2 in August, according to monthly statistics issued by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Still, the three-month average unemployment rate, a more reliable indicator of the trend, was unchanged during the month at 6.4 percent.

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“The drop in the state’s unemployment level in August, while an encouraging sign, must be viewed cautiously,” said IDES Director Gertrude Jordan, in a recent press release. “Payroll jobs, as measured by a monthly survey of Illinois businesses, remained down in all industries again last month, as compared to a year ago, reflecting the state’s continuing struggle to restart job growth. A full economic recovery is dependent upon job expansion.”

For the first time in six months, the number of Illinoisans employed rose by only 10,800, while the number of people unemployed in the state fell by 29,500 jobs.

“What happens in a recession is that people drop out of the labor market,” said Richard Grabowski, chairman of the economics department at SIUC. “They become discouraged and stop looking for jobs.”

Grabowski said job searching can be costly and time consuming, causing people to stop looking and do other things, like stay at home and take care of their children.

“Sometimes unemployment stops raising during a recession, it may even fall, more due to people who stop looking for work than good economic activity,” Grabowski said.

In August, Jackson County’s unemployment rate, 3.9 percent, was the lowest in Southern Illinois. The highest was Alexander County at 10.7 percent.

Le Roy Brandon, Executive Director of the Jackson County Business Development Cooperation, said Jackson County rates are considerably low for the area because of the University.

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“SIU is a huge factor,” he said. “It is the economic engine for Jackson county, if not Southern Illinois.”

On the other hand, the surrounding counties are not so lucky.

Franklin County rates were down nearly one percent in August to 10.5, still more than triple that of Jackson County.

Brandon and Grabowski agree that Franklin County’s economy has suffered greatly by the closure of local coal mines and a boat factory.

“When the coal mines closed, all those people lost jobs, and unless they have skills to move into another occupation, they are stuck,” Grabowski said.

Unemployment rates are measured based on the amount of people who have a job or are looking for one divided by the fraction of the labor force that is without a job.

Problems with the measurement of unemployment include individuals who would like a full-time job, but who can only find part-time work, and those who would like a job, but have given up looking for one, both of which are not included in the rates.

A person qualifies for unemployment benefits, including payment in the amount of just below 50 percent of the person’s former weekly earnings up to $431. The payment will continue for up to 39 weeks as long as the person meets certain qualifications, including being entirely involuntary out of work, able and available to work, actively seeking work and willing to accept any suitable job offer.

The U.S. government has recently extended the time limit by 13 extra weeks from 26 weeks.

The first 26 week’s payments are funded through insurance that employers buy on their employees. The employer pays an insurance tax on the first $9,000 earned. The employee receives no deduction on their pay for this insurance.

Reporter Kristina Herrndobler can be reached at [email protected]

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