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County jobless rate holds steady

DeKALB – While the unemployment rate for DeKalb County and the city of DeKalb dropped more than 3 percentage points in June when compared to last year, employment experts are anxiously waiting to see what will happen through the summer.

The county’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent in June, a 3.1 percentage point drop from the same month last year, according to data the Illinois Department of Employment Security issued Thursday. In the same time period, the city of DeKalb’s rate fell from 10 percent in June 2013 to 6.9 percent last month, data shows.

The improvement is evidence that employers see a sustained demand for products, said IDES spokesman Greg Rivara.

“They add jobs only when they don’t believe their current workforce, with overtime, can meet their customers’ demands,” Rivara said.

While Rivara lauded the seeming increase in demand, he cautioned that summer historically has not been a time of economic growth. He said July will tell if a trend in previous years of economically stalled summers is over.

“Did we break that cycle of hitting the pause button or not?” Rivara said.

He also said employment experts are anxious about how world events, such as turmoil in Ukraine, will affect consumer confidence. Whatever impact world events have, Rivara said, it will likely hit the U.S. economy before it is felt in Illinois.

“If world events inject enough uncertainty to slow demand, that will slow employers,” Rivara said.

Although the numbers show improvement, people ranging from teachers with master’s degrees to industrial workers with years of job experience still visit the
Workforce Transitions Center at Kishwaukee College looking for jobs, training or other help, said Director Mary Anne Kolls.

“We’re happy the numbers are down,” Kolls said. “But we’re seeing people coming in every day looking for jobs.”

Year-over-year trends in employment matched the pace in DeKalb County, with all 102 counties seeing drops in unemployment for the first time since February 2011. Unemployment numbers in the state’s dozen metro areas fell for the third consecutive month.

DeKalb County falls into the Chicago metro region, which saw the unemployment rate drop from 10 percent in June 2013 to 7.1 percent last month. State employment experts said the area added 28,800 nonfarm jobs in the past year.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June was 7.1 percent, the lowest rate since October 2008 when it was 7 percent. The rate was down from 7.5 percent in June 2013. The state’s rate remains higher than the national rate of 6.3 percent.

DeKalb County unemployment rate

2014 2013

January 8.3 9.7

February 8.7 9.3

March 7.7 8.7

April 6.8 8.4

May 6.4 8.2

June 6.4 9.5

Source: Illinois Department of Employment Security

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