QUINCY -- Unemployment remains low, but edged higher through the region during January.
Usually a higher jobless rate would be cause for concern, but Illinois officials said the number of nonfarm jobs rose in 11 of 14 metropolitan areas.
"It's encouraging to see that payrolls continue to increase in most metro areas across the state," said Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes. "Industries like education and health services, trade, transportation and manufacturing are seeing strong growth, and we look forward to continuing to build on that foundation."
Even with the unemployment rate headed higher, the jobless rate remains near historic lows. Illinois unemployment peaked at 12.2 percent in January 2010, as the last recession was ending.
The number of jobs in Illinois rose by 73,200 in the past year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
State Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said there are lots of jobs available. The challenge is to find skilled applicants for those jobs.
"We probably have 300 job openings in Quincy right now," Tracy said.
"We need to build a bridge to those jobs" by pointing young people toward community college programs and technical or vocational schools that provide the skills needed for those jobs, Tracy said.
Missouri's Department of Economic Development reported that unemployment rose in January, but the state added 23,100 nonfarm jobs in the past year. Between December and January, Missouri added 9,300 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Labor analysts noted that cold weather, snow and ice had contributed to the annual slowdown in construction jobs around the state. Those idled workers would contribute to the rise in unemployment.