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County jobless numbers fall again

DeKALB – DeKalb County’s unemployment rate fell in September to 6.9 percent, the lowest rate so far in 2012.

September marks the fourth consecutive month that the unemployment rate has fallen since June, when it peaked at 9.1 percent, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“The situation is better in many areas,” said IDES employment analyst Norman Kelewitz.

Both the county’s labor force and number of employed workers increased between August and September.

In September, 55,609 workers were employed in a nonfarm job in September out of a labor force of 59,717.

This is an increase of 1.5 percent from August’s employed 54,788 workers. August had a labor force of 59,420.

Both Kelewitz and Norm Walzer, senior research fellow at the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies, attributed the increases in labor force and employed workers to schools starting their fall semester.

Walzer described the increase of 821 employed workers between August and September as being significant.

“Either new people came to DeKalb County, or once-discouraged lookers have found new jobs,” Walzer said.

Kelewitz said the last time the county’s unemployment rate was at 6.9 percent or lower, it was 2008 when unemployment was at 5.4 percent. He said the fact that this is the tenth month in which the unemployment rate is lower than the previous year’s is a sign that the economy is recovering.

Unemployment also fell in the Chicago metro area, which includes DeKalb County. From August to September, the regional unemployment rate fell from 8.8 percent to 8 percent.

“Over the year, there have been job gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing,” Kelewitz said.

Paul Borek, the executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, said he is thrilled to hear unemployment dropped below 7 percent.

Borek said three manufacturing companies – Ryerson, ThyssenKrupp and Northstar Packing – have opened up or leased facilities in the county.

The unemployment rate would drop faster if there was leadership and guidance from Congress regarding federal tax and spending policies, said IDES spokesman Greg Rivara.

“Businesses crave certainty,” Rivara said. “They want to know what to expect so they can set their budgets so they know if they are hiring.”

Rivara specifically referred to Congress’s inaction on the impending “fiscal cliff” – a series of tax increases and major spending cuts that are set to go off in January. Rivara said Congressional leaders thought they could force members to compromise by creating a disastrous scenario.

“That has not happened,” Rivara said.

Statewide, the unemployment rate fell from 8.9 percent in August to 8.1. percent in September. Nationwide, the unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent to 7.6 percent.

County unemployment rates are released on the fourth Thursday of the month. Because Thanksgiving is a state holiday, the unemployment rates for October will be released Nov. 21.

By the numbers

DeKalb County’s unemployment rates so far in 2012:

January: 9.0 percent
February: 8.6 percent
March: 8.4 percent
April: 8.3 percent
May: 7.9 percent
June: 9.1 percent
July: 8.6 percent
August: 7.8 percent
September: 6.9 percent

Source: Illinois Department of Employment Security

September unemployment rates for DeKalb County and neighboring counties by percentage:

DeKalb County: 6.9 percent
Boone County: 10.1 percent
Kane County: 7.3 percent
Kendall County: 6.6 percent
LaSalle County: 10.1 percent
Lee County: 8.3 percent
McHenry County: 6.8 percent
Ogle County: 9.7 percent
Winnebago County: 11.2 percent

Source: Illinois Department of Employment Security

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