Letters to the Rockford Region: November 2016

Rockford Leads State in Job Growth

Mike Nicholas, President RAEDCAs of the end of September, 2016, the Rockford metropolitan area leads the State of Illinois in job growth according to the latest unemployment report issued by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The Rockford metropolitan area led the State in job growth at the end of August, 2016 as well.

Our region has often lagged behind the Lake County-Kenosha corridor or the Elgin area.

Eight metro areas in Illinois (including the Rockford metro area) added jobs during September. Six metro areas lost jobs in September.

Rockford’s recovery has been strong and steady over the past 12-18 months, with the strongest job growth on a percentage basis of any region in the State. Here are the rankings for September, 2016 compared to September, 2015.

  1. Rockford (+1.7 percent, +2,600)
  2. Champaign-Urbana (+1.5 percent, +1,700)
  3. Elgin (+1.4 percent, +3,700)
  4. Lake-Kenosha (+1.4 percent, +5,800)
  5. Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro (+1.1 percent, +40,300)

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Rockford Region decreased to 6.6 percent in September 2016 from 6.7 percent in September 2015. The last time the September rate was equal to or lower than the current rate was in 2007 when it was 5.7 percent.

Area employers advertised for 5,200 positions in September and approximately 84 percent sought full time employment. Employers actually need more workers than the help wanted advertising indicates because some industries, such as construction, typically do not advertise job openings.

Our region is fortunate in that we have strong employers in aerospace, advanced manufacturing, automotive and healthcare. These employers continue to find ways to innovate and grow.

In addition, United States companies have found ways to automate and improve their processes. This has allowed these companies to reduce their costs and compete with low labor cost operations in the Far East. This has resulted in “on-shoring” wherein United States companies are bringing work back to the United States from overseas, thus creating more jobs.

While what is going on inside our employers is very exciting, we are also seeing an increase in construction projects resulting in more jobs for our trades people. The Rockford Park District, FCA US (Chrysler), and our healthcare providers are all building new or expanded facilities, which require an increased number of trades people.

All in all, there are many opportunities in the Rockford Region for employment in good, well paying positions.

Until next month,

Mike Nicholas Signature - Casual

Mike Nicholas, President
Rockford Area Economic Development Council