Unemployment rates rise in West-Central Illinois region during February

Posted: Mar. 28, 2013 7:44 pm Updated: Apr. 18, 2013 9:15 pm

Herald-Whig Senior Writer

Unemployment rates rose in the West-Central Illionis region in February as the number of jobs declined.

"In Adams County, the labor force is down by 300 and the number employed is down by 600 when compared to a year ago," said Ron Payne, a labor market economist with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Construction jobs were among the big losses from a year earlier. Temperatures in late February 2012 were rising into the 50s and 60s, and some types of construction jobs continued through that month. This year the temperatures dipped and winter storms struck, hurting construction employment.

David Rees, owner of Rees Construction, said even with work under way on Blessing Hospital's new patient tower, he's not close to full employment. Cold weather generally shuts down much of the construction sector.

Rees does not expect the unemployment rate to improve in March. Bad weather was the rule this year, while last year, there were near record high temperatures.

Tourism and other seasonal occupations also were well ahead of the norm in February 2012.

Adams County's jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent, up from 7.4 percent in January. Yet the county retained the second-lowest rate in the state, trailing Brown County's 5.9 percent jobless rate.

Higher unemployment was an issue throughout most of Illinois. The February statewide rate was 10.1 percent, up from 8.6 percent in January. Unemployment rose in 10 of the state's 12 metropolitan areas, with small decreases in the Quad Cities and the St. Louis Metro East area.

"An economic recovery naturally includes monthly up-and-down movement in the unemployment rate as individuals suspend and renew their job search," IDES Director Jay Rowell said.

Employment statistics from Missouri will not be released until Friday.