Iowa layoffs affect jobless rates in Illinois, Missouri counties

Posted: Jan. 26, 2013 12:24 am Updated: Feb. 16, 2013 2:15 am

Herald-Whig Senior Writer

One large job loss in the Tri-State region was felt across state lines in December.

Jobless rates in Hancock County, Ill., and Clark County, Mo., rose 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, due to job losses in neighboring Lee County, Iowa.

Siemens Corp. laid off 407 workers at a wind turbine blade factory in Fort Madison, Iowa, in mid-November. The company retained about 220 workers, with officials announcing the planned layoffs in September. The cuts were due in part to a failure by Congress to renew wind energy tax credits and an increase in gas-powered electric generation facilities as natural gas prices have plummeted.

"Quite a few people worked up at the Siemens plant. That's the biggest change I can think of in the last couple of months," said Jim Sherwood, Clark County's emergency coordinator.

Most other jobless rates in Western Illinois and Northeast Missouri remained lower than state or national unemployment rates.

Brown County, maintained the lowest unemployment rate in Illinois at 4.7 percent. Adams County had the second lowest rate at 6.0 percent.

Scotland County, Mo., had one of the lowest rates in Missouri at 4.6 percent unemployment.

Jay Rowell, director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said December unemployment showed the effects of "uncertainty tied to Congress, the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff."

Rowell said the state's and nation's economic recovery can be seen in the year-to-year decline in unemployment.

Missouri officials reported the addition of 10,000 jobs in December, but said that was not enough to keep the adjusted jobless rate from moving up a notch. Even so, Missouri's 6.5 percent rate looked good in comparison with the nation's 7.8 percent figure.

"Our balanced budgets, trained work workforce and pro-growth policies make Missouri one of the best places in the nation to invest and create jobs," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said during a visit to Detroit earlier this month.

Nixon pointed to automotive jobs as one of the success stories in Missouri, with Ford and General Motors plans expanding in the state.