What significance does the unemployment rate in Waukegan, Illinois, hold for people in the United States? The historic community of nearly 90,000 people lies just north of the sprawling urban metropolis of Chicago. It sits along the scenic shore of Lake Michigan, just a short drive away from Chicago along Interstate-94.
An Important Economic Bellweather
Waukegan, Illinois traces its recorded history back at least to 1829, when a town arose in the area beside a trading post. Today, the unemployment rates in this beautiful city may offer important clues about the condition of the economy in the nation’s “Rust Belt”.
Just consider some interesting statistics about unemployment rates in the community:
- In July, 2011, the median age in Waukegan stood at 30.5 years;
- Unemployment in Waukegan in July, 2011 had reached the high level of 11%;
- By the end of April, 2016, unemployment had fallen to 6.8%;
- Currently, Waukegan reports an Illinois Labor Force participation rate of 66.2%, with 41,955 employed adults in the community.
- The total number of unemployed in Waukegan presently remains at 3.039 workers, a rate of 6.8%;
- During the previous 12 months, Waukegan added 825 employees to the work force;
- Between March, 2016 and April, 2016, reported unemployment in Waukegan declined by an impressive 2.7%, down from 9.5%.
These figures suggest that Waukegan remains a city with a high number of young workers in their 20s. In 2011, the year before the last national election cycle, unemployment in the town had reached a very high level, with over one in every 10 adult workers looking for a job. The rate of unemployment still hovered very close to 10% last month, although it dropped impressively between March and April this year.
Why Did Unemployment Decline Significantly Recently?
Although the labor statistics might suggest that the number of employed workers increased markedly in Waukegan with the creation of over 500 jobs last month, media reports do not appear to indicate a new large private employment source opening and hiring in the area. It remains possible that many small employers simply began hiring in larger numbers in Waukegan this spring.
Additionally, in June the federal government did make an outreach efforts to encourage veterans in Waukegan to attend workshop to apply for jobs with the United States government. Since Waukegan remains the home of many workers in their 20s and early 30s, possibly large numbers of veterans currently benefit from this ongoing campaign.
Contrasting Gloomy And Bright Economic Forecasts
Another possible explanation might involve a reduction in the number of unemployed workers filing unemployment compensation claims in the community. If some unemployed workers exhausted unemployment benefits, or simply stopped filing claims because they stopped seeking employment or relocated from the area, that situation might also reduce local unemployment statistics.
However, reports from the Illinois Department of Labor to the contrary suggest that unemployed workers have found jobs in the Waukegan area. This prospect would represent a more positive outcome for the region’s economic prospects. In this case, even though unemployment in Waukegan at 6.8% remains slightly higher than either the 6.2% jobless rate for Illinois or the national 5% unemployment rate, the local economy strengthened during March.