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Illinois Unemployment Drops To "Record Low," Preliminary Data Shows

Illinois’ September unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down by a tenth of a percent from August, and state officials are calling that a record low.

The early numbers suggest Illinois’ economy, like the rest of the country’s, is humming along. The state added more than 66,000 jobs across several different sectors over the past year. In the past month alone, about 5,000 more people found jobs across sectors including transportation, government and education.

Sam Salustro, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, says the unemployment rate is just one good indicator.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the labor force," he explained. "Out of the number of people who could be working, more people are trying to work and that’s always a sign of a strong economy.”

The department stated in a news release the previous unemployment record of four percent had been set in August. Though Salustro didn't credit any particular state policy with influencing the trend of job growth, he said many in the labor force are encouraged by what state lawmakers have recently done.

“I know that this [Pritzker] administration has taken a number of policies that they say are going to bolster that job growth, like passing a balanced budget, passing a bipartisan capital bill that will rebuild roads and bridges, and raising the minimum wage.”

Salustro acknowledged the job boom will eventually end, and says IDES has resources ready for Illinois job seekers when it does.

Illinois is still nearly half a percent behind the national jobless rate of 3.5 percent. The September numbers are preliminary and will likely be revised as officials review the data.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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