• Ill. unemployment and poverty rates remain the same

    by  • September 19, 2013 • News

    CHICAGO (AP) — The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.2 percent in Illinois last month. That’s one of the country’s highest jobless rates.

    The Illinois Department of Employment Security says Thursday that the state added 5,600 jobs in the educational and health services sector in August. But Illinois lost a net 4,100 construction jobs.

    Employment Security Director Jay Rowell pointed out that even without a drop in the unemployment rate the state still added a net 5,900 private-sector jobs for the month. Government employers actually cut a net 1,100 jobs in August.

    The federal government said earlier this month that the national unemployment rate for August was 7.3 percent.

    At the same time, new Census Bureau figures show Illinois’ poverty rate remained stubbornly near 15 percent last year, and anti-poverty advocates say that’s a sign an economic recovery isn’t trickling down to the least fortunate.

    The latest figures suggest that 14.7 percent of Illinoisans, or about 1.85 million people, lived in poverty last year. That’s down ever slightly from 15 percent, or 1.88 million, in 2011.

    The national rate also remained at 15 percent.

    Amy Terpstra of the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance’s Social Impact Research Center says the latest figures may make the case for raising Illinois’ minimum wage. It’s set at $8.25 an hour.Gov. Pat Quinn is pushing that idea, but business executives say it could backfire and force employers to eliminate jobs.