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DeKalb County shows signs of job recovery

Unemployment rate falls; local labor force grows

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 11:03 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 11:05 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb County’s unemployment rate in July continued this year’s trend of year-over-year declines.

At the same time, the total local labor force continued to grow, according to data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

In July, 6.1 percent of DeKalb County’s labor force was unemployed, a 2.5 percentage-point decrease from the same month in 2013, according to seasonally unadjusted data IDES released Thursday.

Of the county’s 59,515-member labor force – comprised of people who are either employed or actively looking for work – a little more than 3,600 were out of work and searching. In June, nearly 3,800 people out of 59,326 were out of work and looking, making the county’s unemployment rate 6.4 percent.

The labor force in July was the largest it has been all year, which signifies that the unemployment rate has little to do with people giving up on their job search, said Norman Walzer, a senior research scholar at Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies.

“It probably indicates people are not leaving the workforce because they’re frustrated,” Walzer said. “The total labor force does not have any evidence of discouraged workers.”

The city of DeKalb’s labor force also is growing while the unemployment rate falls. DeKalb added almost 100 people to its labor force from June to July, bringing the city’s labor force to more than 24,200.

DeKalb’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in July, down from 9.1 percent in July 2013. The rate also was down slightly from the June rate of 6.8 percent.

Walzer expects the labor force will grow in August with the return of NIU students and businesses adding more staff to accommodate increased customer demand. What that will mean for the unemployment rate is hard to predict, though.

“August is an awkward month,” Walzer said. “But I would think over the next couple months, we could see improvement in these numbers.”

The area’s labor force did not reflect the change seen statewide. From June to July, the state’s 6.5 million member labor force lost 17,000 people.

Across Illinois, the unemployment rate fell in all 12 metropolitan areas when compared with the same month the previous year. In the Chicago metropolitan area, which includes DeKalb County, the unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in July compared with 9.6 percent in July 2013.

As a whole, the state’s unemployment rate in July was 6.8 percent, a decline from 9.2 percent in July 2013. The state’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national rate, which is 6.2 percent.

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