Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Illinois Unemployment Remains Near National High

State also expected to lag nationally in job creation for 2014

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New statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that at 8.6 percent, Illinois continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

The December survey of seasonally adjusted household data shows only two states—Rhode Island and Nevada—have higher rates of unemployment than Illinois. For December, Rhode Island reported 9.1 percent and Nevada 8.8 percent.

The survey also showed that nationwide, employers added only 74,000 jobs last month, the fewest in three years and much lower than the average of 214,000 in the previous four months.

While many economists have been predicting that the economy will continue to pick up steam in the first and second quarters of 2014, the December numbers are attributed in part to unseasonably cold weather.

Within the state, the unemployment rate dropped in December, to 8.6 percent from 8.7 percent the previous month, according to the state Department of Employment Security. The state shed 3,200 jobs in December, including construction jobs lost to brutally cold weather.

Worse, a recent report by the Pew Charitable trusts projected Illinois would be dead last among 50 states for job creation in 2014.

The report suggests the sate will add a paltry 57,000 jobs during the year, for a growth rate of less than one percent.

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