Unemployment numbers; Meningitis warning

Unemployment rises slightly in Illinois metro areas
October 2018 Illinois unemployment rates rose slightly in 12 out of 14 Illinois metropolitan areas according to information from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The increases for the month occurred in areas such as Champaign, Rockford and the Quad Cities. Unemployment numbers for the state as a whole improved because of a decline, from 4.8% to 3.9%, in the unemployment rate posted in the area around Chicago.

But there was some good news in the report for downstate communities as well. As the economy improves, more people enter the workforce and start looking for jobs. The overall number of jobs in Illinois increased, as did the number of people in the labor force. For the most recent month that figures are available, October, the 14 metro areas in Illinois supported over six million payroll jobs. While unemployment in some areas increased in October, a comparison with where we stood one year ago shows that there was a net gain in jobs created in Champaign-Urbana, the Quad Cities, Rockford, and other metro areas throughout Illinois.

A warning about meningitis
Outbreaks of Meningitis B occurred once again this fall at colleges and universities around the country, although there were none reported in Illinois. However, Illinois public health experts are still urging prompt attention to be paid to this infectious disease. History has shown that Meningitis B is prone to outbreaks on college campuses. There is a vaccine for Meningitis B, which is optional in Illinois. Public health officials have urged healthy Illinoisans, particularly those who live in dormitory-style housing, to get vaccinated. Meningitis can cause neurological complications and can be fatal in rare circumstances.

‘Houses in a box’
A big thank you to Joda Crabtree, Dustie Pendley, Big R and their Watseka staff, Disaster Case Manager Mark Kwiat, Kerry Bell and all of the members of the Iroquois County Long Term Recovery Committee as they delivered “House in a Box” to 21 different homes in the area Saturday morning. Deliveries went as far out as Thawville. The effort took a lot of coordination, with a large number of materials, trucks and volunteers. It was great to see how business and a big team of volunteers come together to reach out to people in the community.

In the last four years, Governor Rauner has visited the Watseka area three times because of serious flooding problems. We have seen homes damaged or destroyed. The legislature recently created some disaster tax credits to help people get back on their feet. This is a great example of our great community pulling together.

How much do we owe? 
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,354,295,172 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $9.5 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.

Duck season is underway in all regions
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently opened the South Zone fall duck hunting season. DNR has staggered duck season openings by region throughout the state, with the season starting in some areas several weeks ago. Information about seasonal hunting dates and bag limits for this year are available at DNR’s website at www.dnr.illinois.gov. Zone maps and expected future season opening and closing dates are also available. Duck season will last in all three zones until January 31.

Did You Know?
The convention which drafted Illinois’ current state Constitution convened in Springfield on December 8, 1969. The convention met at the Old State Capitol and produced the first new state Constitution in 100 years. The new Constitution made several changes, including requiring the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to be from the same party and it gave the Governor the power of the amendatory veto which we saw just last week in the fall veto session. This is the fourth state Constitution for Illinois, following those enacted in 1818, 1848 and 1870.