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Illinois unemployment up slightly in June

CHAMPAIGN – The unemployment rate in Illinois increased slightly in June while manufacturers and local governments cut more jobs than they added, the state Department of Employment Security said Thursday.

The statewide unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent last month, up from 9.1 percent in May. June's figure ended two months of decreasing unemployment.

Employers around the state added a net 5,400 non-farm jobs for the month. And department Director Jay Rowell was encouraged by the net 9,000 jobs added by private-sector employers.

"Continued private sector job growth suggests business leaders expect that consumers will feel better about spending money and they must prepare for that increase in demand," Rowell said in a news release.

The state's unemployment rate likely remains among the nation's highest – June figures aren't yet available for every state, but in May Illinois' jobless rate was among the highest in the country. Only Nevada was worse at 9.5 percent.

Manufacturers cut a net 1,600 jobs for the month. Illinois' manufacturing had been one of the state's strongest employment sectors until recent months.

And government employers reduced payrolls by 3,600 jobs, a figure that likely includes seasonal reductions in school employees, department spokesman Greg Rivara said.

The Chicago Public Schools also laid off 850 people last month as part of a plan to close 50 schools and programs.

Construction hiring was up for a second straight month, increased by a net 5,400 jobs in June.

The increase in both months is likely due to existing jobs delayed by the wet spring, said Ian Lamp, the owner of Lamp Inc. in Elgin. The builder has about 54 employees right now.

"It was a very wet spring," Lamp said, discussing a new fire station his company has put off. "We're probably a month delayed from starting it."

His company, he said, may soon add a couple of short-term employees but isn't hiring in large numbers.

"We are doing the best we can to keep our current employees busy and active and give them a 40-hour work week," he said.

Companies that do road construction work are likely doing more hiring, he said, noting that road and highway work continues to be strong.

Also up in June were jobs at trade, transportation and utilities companies, which added a net 3,900 jobs. That increase, Rivara said, is related construction, too, albeit smaller-scale construction such as home improvement.

"Driving that are large gains in building materials and general merchandise," he said.


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