Unemployment rate drops, record tourism to Illinois

Illinois unemployment rate drops to 11.3%

Illinois’ unemployment rate continues its decline from its coronavirus peak, but it also continues to lag behind the improvement nationally. Our jobless rate fell from 14.5% in June to 11.3% in July, going down by 3.2%. Statistics reported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security report that only 93,200 net nonfarm payroll jobs were created last month, accounting for about one-third of the decline in the unemployment rate. The rest came as a result of discouraged job-seekers giving up on actively searching for work and leaving the workforce.

The national unemployment rate remains better overall than the number for Illinois. Nationwide unemployment fell to 10.2% as the national economy continues its coronavirus recovery. Unemployment remains much higher nationally and in Illinois than it did six months or one year ago due to the spike caused by the virus outbreak. While we are moving in the right direction there is still a long road ahead, and Illinois’ pre-existing poor jobs climate makes it more difficult for us to compete with our neighboring states or the nation as a whole.

Another year of record tourism growth

Before the coronavirus outbreak hit, many of our economic indicators were favorable. Even though other states and the national economy were still ahead of Illinois, we were making progress. Last week we saw another sign of the good news that characterized our economy before the pandemic when the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Office of Tourism announced that in 2019 Illinois saw record tourism growth for the ninth year in a row.

Visitors to Illinois in 2019 spent more than $43 billion in the state, up by $1.3 billion from the year before. This spending supported over 300,000 Illinois jobs in the travel and tourism industry, itself an increase of 1800 jobs over 2018. From state government’s perspective, these visitors helped generate $2.5 billion in tax revenue, which was also a significant increase from 2018.

The increase was seen everywhere in the state, with tourism to Chicago up by 4.5% and to downstate by 5.6%. It is encouraging to see this kind of good news about people from around the country and the world coming to visit Illinois. Once this pandemic has passed our tourism industry will be in a strong position to rebound if we continue to attract visitors to our state’s many tourist sites.

Discussing health care and the outbreak

I appreciated the opportunity to have breakfast last week at The Table in Watseka with Dr. Rodney Alford, one of the five Regional Directors of the Illinois State Medical Society. Dr. Alford practices Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the Iroquois Memorial Hospital MSP Clinic in Watseka and is the Director of Hospice for IMH. We had a great conversation around a number of current issues. I am glad Dr. Alford works and lives in our community to share his knowledge and services with so many of our neighbors.

Join us for a conversation about local hospitals and COVID-19

Rob Schmitt, CEO of Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services, will join me on Thursday August 27 at 5 p.m. to talk about the impact of COVID-19 on our local hospitals and health care professionals. What are some of their COVID-19 challenges? We will look at preparations, staffing and working with the state and federal governments, as well as other important topics. Visit my Facebook page for more information.

More news from around the state

Latest update from the Department of Public Health includes another death in Iroquois County

Stricter coronavirus mitigation measures imposed in Kankakee and Will counties

A renewed warning about COVID-19 at summer’s end

20 Illinois counties at warning level for coronavirus disease

UI’s approach to preventing, monitoring spread to be put to test

IEMA: Make mental health a priority as students return to school

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).