Secrets of the Job Hunt


Monday, May 12, 2008

Illinois Job Market

Despite leading the Midwestern states in employment growth since January of 2004, Illinois’s jobless rate for the month of March, which was 5.5 percent, exceeded the national average of 5.1 percent. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) the number of positions existing in the state was basically unchanged.

Local employers only did away with 1,600 Illinois jobs, or 0.03 percent of the existing statewide payroll. Consider that, throughout the country, employers did away with 80,000 jobs in March alone, Illinois seems to be fairing well in comparison.

Data shows that the Illinois job market has been more stable than that of the nation for four of the last five months. No other state has outdone this performance since January of 1996. Since the beginning of Illinois reign as leading producer of jobs in the Midwest, the state has created 197,400 new positions. Since March of last year, 21,700 new Illinois jobs have been created despite the face that the national economy has been suffering for some time now.

IDES Director James P Sledge says that “as the national economy begins to show signs of stagnation and the national unemployment rate hit’s a 2 ½ year high, local areas throughout Illinois continue to remain stable or report over-the-year job gains.” He went on to say that “Since the beginning of the year, employment in the nation has declined 232,000, while Illinois, under the leadership of Gov. Blagojevich, has gained 13,300 new jobs.”

Although the number of jobs in Illinois remains relatively steady, positions that offer health benefits as a perk are on the decline. According to a recently released study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the number of Illinois jobs with medical insurance dropped by 660,000 positions between the years of 2001 and 2005. Data shows that approximately 26,600 private employers ceased to offer medical coverage during this time period.

For the most part, this phenomenon is the result of the rising cost of receiving medical attention. At this time the nation is going through a shortage of properly trained healthcare workers. Since there are fewer people available to be hired for a growing number of Illinois jobs in healthcare, employers must pay staff members more to avoid losing them to competitors.

Between this and the fact that new medical technology is more expensive than ever before, health insurance costs are becoming too much for both workers and employers. By the year 2005, the average cost of a family health insurance policy for those with jobs in Illinois was $10,574. Employers, which pay about three-quarters of this expense, are finding it difficult to provide these kind of benefits for all members of their payrolls. At this time there is no report on how many Illinois workers have lost health insurance in the last three years.

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