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A different spin on the state's weak economic recovery

Crain's Chicago Business

Wednesday, October 13, 2021  |  Article  |  Greg Hinz

Economy (34) , Employment, Jobs (40)

Illinois has added fewer jobs than many states. But as a result, we have a lower labor shortage, a study says.

Call it the silver lining to Illinois’ relatively weak economic recovery.

While Illinois has been adding jobs more slowly than most other states as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, it has a relative advantage going forward compared to most states, according to a new study: not as much of a labor shortage.

Specifically, the study by CareerCloud found that while some states, such as North Dakota, Vermont and Nebraska, have 1.2 to 1.8 job openings for every unemployed person, the opposite applies in New York, California, Nevada and other states that, like Illinois, were harder hit by COVID.

The firm says it used U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and figures from ZipRecruiter and CareerBuilder.

In Illinois, the study found that there are 0.59 job openings per unemployed person, making Illinois the 10th "least impacted” by a labor shortage. That by no means is optimal for employers struggling to find and keep staffers. But it does suggests their struggle isn’t quite as bad as elsewhere.

Hawaii ranked best on the labor shortage scale, with 0.41 job openings per unemployed person, followed by New York and California at 0.45 and Nevada at 0.5.

Of course, in terms of the unemployment rate, Illinois has nothing to brag about. It was 7.1% last month, among the highest in the country. That’s a drop of 5.9 percentage points from the pandemic peak.