Job seekers hope for more opportunity as unemployment shrinks

By Carly O'Keefe - bio | email

MARION, IL (KFVS) - New unemployment numbers show the economy may be improving, but there are still many job seekers having a hard time finding work.

Statewide unemployment for January sits right at 9.0 percent in Illinois. That's a drop from December's 9.2 percent.

meantime, the job seekers at Mantracon are seeing more opportunities in southern Illinois.

"I see jobs more frequently posted, they are being filled, we are seeing movement on our jobs board," said Christine Pell, a career specialist for Mantracon.

Career specialist Christine Pell says every new posting is a sign that the economy showing improvement.

"When employees contact us for their positions we're seeing more opportunities," said Pell. "Maybe they're looking to hire more than just one person. We're also seeing people who've maybe been in their job search less than six months finding jobs."

In southern Illinois - the most recent county-by-county unemployment numbers from December show many Heartland counties like Williamson, Saline and Jefferson Counties hover in the mid-8 percent range.

Others like Franklin and Perry counties are still above 10 percent, which means there are still many folks out of work.

"It's been a hard road," said job seeker Matt McChristin.

McChristin was a high school English teacher who lost his job due to budget cuts at the end of the 2010 school year. He's been looking to make a career change ever since but hasn't had much luck.

Still, he says news that unemployment numbers are shrinking gives him hope his first day at a new job may not be far off.

"I feel it's getting close," said McChristin. "It's just something that, when it gets here, I'll feel even better."

Pell says while the local economy still isn't where it's supposed to be, it would appear things are starting to look up.

"I think it's moving in the right direction," said Pell. "I think employers are finding this may be the right time to start hiring."

To see a map of Illinois counties and their unemployment rates click here.

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