Last week in this space, I mentioned that Illinois often finds itself at the bottom of "good lists," and at the top of the "bad lists." There aren't a whole lot of things worse than being unemployed (especially when you desperately wish to be employed), and unfortunately, Illinois holds the nation's top spot on the list of highest unemployment rates.

The Illinois Policy Institute, working from a report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, points out:

The state of Illinois gained 5,400 jobs in April with the most significant sector gains in professional and business services, along with education and health. While the modest jobs growth continues a month-over-month positive trend, 9,700 of the Illinoisans who joined the growing workforce in April were met with an economy not able to provide enough job opportunities to match the demand for work. This resulted in the increased unemployment rate, and unemployment have been rising in this way since July 2015.
The report also shows a continuing negative trend in Illinois’ manufacturing sector with a loss of 400 jobs on the year. Illinois has the worst manufacturing jobs recovery in the region.

So, how does our state compare with surrounding states when it comes to job growth or the lack of it?

  • Illinois’ unemployment rate for April rose to 6.6 percent from March’s 6.5 percent, due to an increase of 9,700 unemployed Illinoisans. The new unemployment rate gives Illinois the highest unemployment rate in the nation, matched only by Alaska.
  • Illinois’ unemployment rate compared to surrounding states:
    • Illinois 6.6%
    • Wisconsin 5.5%
    • Kentucky 5.3%
    • Ohio 5.2%
    • Indiana 5.2%
    • Michigan 4.8%
    • Missouri 4.3%
    • Iowa 3.9%
    • Minnesota 3.8%
  • April jobs growth for neighboring and Great Lakes states:
    • Illinois gained 5,400 jobs
    • Indiana gained 11,000 jobs
    • Iowa gained 4,300 jobs
    • Kentucky gained 5,000 jobs
    • Michigan gained 5,800 jobs
    • Minnesota gained 15,600 jobs
    • Missouri gained 15,000 jobs
    • Ohio lost 13,600 jobs
    • Wisconsin lost 12,600 jobs