DANVILLE — As Vermilion Advantage compares surveys of when local employees and businesses were initially affected by COVID-19 to another survey now as employees are going back and businesses are opening up more, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Thursday that Illinois’ unemployment rate fell 2 percentage points to 15.2 percent.

Nonfarm payrolls added 62,200 jobs in May, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and released by IDES.

The April monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report from a decrease of 762,200 jobs to a decrease of 738,600 jobs. The April unemployment rate was also revised from the preliminary report, from 16.4 percent to 17.2 percent, as a result of large monthly revisions to unemployed and employed in April.

The state’s unemployment rate was 1.9 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May, which was 13.3 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was up 11.1 percentage points from a year ago when it was 4.1 percent.

The three-month average Illinois payroll employment estimate was down 245,800 jobs during the March to May three-month period, compared to the February to April three-month period. The largest average declines were found in leisure and hospitality (-95,700), trade, transportation and utilities (-33,600) and educational and health services (-30,000).

According to Vermilion Advantage Interim President and CEO Tinisha Spain, Vermilion Advantage has been helping employees and businesses through different services during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have been giving people referrals to different services that can benefit them. We’ve helped several of our members get the (Payroll Protection Program) loans through our member banks. We’ve also been working with (Danville Area Community College) and the (Small Business Development Center) for small business. I’ve also reached out to some community foundations to help other non-profits secure funding during this time,” Spain stated through an email.

“It will take some time to rebound, but we are emerging from this not as battered and bruised as we previously thought,” she says.

“We did a survey when people were told to go home in March. We did that survey for six weeks, comparing who was operational and who wasn’t, and what they were doing to keep the virus from getting into the workplace. Now we started a going-back-to-work survey (last week) and we’ll compare the two. We’re asking who is open and operational, if your workforce is bigger, smaller or about the same as before and other questions pertaining to workforce,” Spain said.

According to Illinois Deputy Governor Dan Hynes in a press release about Illinois’ unemployment, “As we continue to grapple with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to safely reopening the state to begin economic recovery. We remain focused on providing working families and small businesses the tools necessary for recovery as we move through each phase of the Restore Illinois plan.”

“While unemployment is trending in the right direction, the (Gov. J.B.) Pritzker administration continues to take bold actions designed to support Illinois businesses and residents displaced by the unprecedented global health crisis,” said Michael Negron, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “Our strategy to encourage social distancing and important investments in expanding testing and contact tracing will enable businesses to safely reopen, bringing staffing levels back up, returning Illinoisans to work, and giving our economy the reboot it needs.”

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 737,900 jobs, with losses across nearly all major industries. The industry groups with the largest jobs decreases were: leisure and hospitality (-285,200), trade, transportation and utilities (-102,100) and professional and business services (-96,100). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were down 12.1 percent over-the-year as compared to the nation’s 11.7 percent over-the-year decline in May.

The number of unemployed workers fell sharply from the prior month, a 9.1 percent decrease to 955,100 but was up 261 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was up 2.7 percent over-the-month and down 2.5 percent over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

IDES maintains the state’s largest job search engine, Illinois Job Link, to help connect jobseekers to employers who are hiring, which recently showed 192,804 posted resumes with 58,267 jobs available.

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