Jobs report shows major comeback for Illinois, though hotel and restaurant industries still struggling

CHICAGO (CBS) — A promising jobs report shows a strong comeback — and one of the notable things is that unemployment numbers in Illinois are down to where they were before the pandemic.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, we’re told construction and hospitality are seeing big numbers and a big comeback in Illinois.

Meanwhile, layoffs are down 27% from the same time last year — mirroring what we’ve seen with statewide jobless claims.

Here’s the acting director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security at a recent hearing…

“Unemployment insurance claims data has retreated to pre-pandemic levels, indicating a resilient and strengthening labor market,” said Kristen Richards, acting director of the Department of Employment Security. Illinois.

We have calculated the numbers and we use January as an example. A total of 57,599 people filed for unemployment in January 2022 – a figure that is within the normal range and even lower than pre-pandemic Januarys. In January 2020, a total of 55,133 people applied, while a total of 53,946 applied in January 2019 and 58,778 in January 2018.



Before January 2018, initial claims were all higher than in January

But these are not the only promising figures. Enter jobs expert Andy Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“We’re really seeing the job market starting to fully recover,” Gray said.

So who is hiring? Where are people going back to work?

“We’ve seen the biggest increases in leisure and hospitality,” Challenger said.

The report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that the retail, entertainment and leisure, government and automotive sectors are also growing.



But there’s a new factor in returning jobs that could change back-to-office plans: prices at the pump.

“There’s a great deal of willingness from employers right now to try and get people back to work in a pre-COVID world, but it’s getting harder and harder when it costs employees an arm and a leg to get there,” said said Challenger.

In Illinois, we’ve seen some still waiting to see the full impact of the jobs report, a spokesperson for the Illinois Restaurant Association said business is picking up, but challenges remain:

“As restaurants in Illinois slowly recover, they have still lost more than 60,000 jobs since before the pandemic. General Meeting – which would help restaurants pay their overdue bills, rehire more employees, and ultimately stay in business.”

The president of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association said long-term COVID restrictions in Illinois and Chicago have delayed recovery in that sector. The association is optimistic, but said, “When it comes to occupancy rates throughout January 2022, Chicago was the worst performing market of any major city in the United States.”

The Hotel and Lodging Association issued the press release below.

“That’s the hope,” Challenger said. “Things will return to some kind of normalcy as we move past restrictions, and people want to come back to Chicago and come to our hotels and restaurants.”


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