Knox County’s unemployment rate raised slightly in July over June, but it seems largely to be a result of a larger labor force from the prior month.
Labor force hit 22,335 based on preliminary numbers released Thursday from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Knox’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent for June. That’s just 400 basis points higher than June, but that’s along with a larger labor force over last month.
Labor force and unemployment are almost identical year over year.
It’s typical for the labor force to hit a yearly highly during the summer months, although the trailing three months were the first three straights months of sub-5 percent unemployment since late 2017.
All economic regions of the state showed improving unemployment year-over-year with stagnant labor force growth. That could be a sign that job growth is slowing as the labor market gets tighter.
Local counties are staying close to the statewide average unemployment rate, which was 4.2 for June.
Warren’s rate was 4.4, Henry 4.4, and Rock Island 4.7 percent. An exception is Fulton County where unemployment stood at 5.8 percent, and while that’s an improvement over last year it came with fewer people looking for work in Fulton.
Knox County has seen years of declining labor force although it has rebounded from all-time lows in January. But since the summer tends to be the strongest time for the job market, hiring this winter will be a key test if the local labor decline has hit a bottom.
Statewide leisure and hospitality jobs continue to grow with 4.6 percent more jobs in that industry over a year ago.
Mining and information industries lost the biggest share of jobs but they represent less than 2 percent of Illinois’ nonfarm payrolls.