DeKALB – DeKalb County saw an increase in the labor force, employed workers and unemployed workers between May 2012 and May 2013.
According to monthly figures released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate in DeKalb County remained virtually unchanged year-over-year, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.3 percent in May 2013.
"The data is encouraging because it's showing that long-term trend of a slowly improving economy," said IDES spokesman Greg Rivara.
Compared with the national picture, DeKalb County and Illinois as a whole both still have unemployment rates above the national rate of 7.6 percent.
Month-to-month, the situation seems to be improving. The local unemployment rate in 2013 peaked at 9.9 percent in February, at the same time the county's labor force peaked at 59,767. The labor force declined month-to-month before increasing again to 59,360 people in May.
Norm Walzer, a senior research fellow at Northern Illinois University's Center for Governmental Studies, said the increase of about 600 workers in the labor force between April and May was good, but he noted the volatility that can occur month to month.
Paul Borek, the executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., said he's heard good things from local employers.
"On the whole, employment is relatively stable or increasing slightly," Borek said. "Our employers are optimistic. They tell us business is good."
Borek said the DCEDC is helping local companies partner with Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College to develop educational programs students can take to make them better job candidates.
"Employers have identified a variety of occupations and skills they need in the future, and they have pledged to work with educators to help recruit and train people in promising careers in manufacturing and industry," Borek said.
Borek said some new companies have come into DeKalb County. Triumph Truss & Steel Co., a Huntley-based steel company, acquired a building in Kirkland earlier this year and plans to hire 10 workers at that location. North Star Packing, a Minnesota-based firm, plans to hire 10 to 20 workers at one of their new locations in DeKalb.
Borek said North Star leased the space at 180 Harvester Drive in 2012, but it only began operations within the past couple of months.
In May, the Chicago metro area, which includes DeKalb County, saw its unemployment rate rise year over year from 8.8 percent to 9.3 percent. During the same time frame, the region has seen an additional 60,400 jobs become available.
Statewide, the unemployment rate fell from 9.3 to 9.1 percent this month, while the national unemployment rate stayed roughly the same, going from 7.5 to 7.6 percent during the same time period.
SEASONALLY UNADJUSTED UNEMPLOYMENT IN DEKALB COUNTY FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS - Outbox
June: 9.1 percent
July: 8.6 percent
August: 7.8 percent
September: 6.9 percent
October: 7.4 percent
November: 7.3 percent
December: 7.7 percent
January: 9.6 percent
February: 9.9 percent
March: 8.9 percent
April: 8.6 percent
May: 8.3 percent
SEASONALLY UNADJUSTED UNEMPLOYMENT IN DEKALB COUNTY AND NEARBY COUNTIES FOR MAY 2013 - Outbox
DeKalb County: 8.3 percent
Boone County: 9.1 percent
Kane County: 8.7 percent
Kendall County: 8.5 percent
LaSalle County: 9.7 percent
Lee County: 8.0 percent
McHenry County: 8.2 percent
Ogle County: 9.5 percent
Winnebago County: 10.1 percent