Illinois unemployment rate near the worst in U.S.

Illinois unemployment rate near the worst in U.S.
Jobs lost in Southern Illinois during January. (Source: TJ Smith, KFVS)
Jobs lost in Southern Illinois during January. (Source: TJ Smith, KFVS)
Illinois unemployment rate is only behind Alaska, Mississippi, and New Mexico. (Source: TJ Smith, KFVS)
Illinois unemployment rate is only behind Alaska, Mississippi, and New Mexico. (Source: TJ Smith, KFVS)

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States and experts say it will only get worse.

In January, the national unemployment  was 4.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, Illinois' jobless rate climbed from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent from December to January.

The land of Lincoln is fourth from dead-last behind Mississippi at 6.9 percent, Alaska at 6.6 percent, New Mexico at 6.5 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The District of Columbia also has one of the highest unemployment rates at 6.5 percent

Job placement professionals in southern Illinois say the number will only continue to rise if legislators don't solve the state's budget impasse.

Gail Barger has more than 15 years experience working in the employment services field. She's a partner with the Priority Staffing Group in Marion, Ill.

"You can go to Missouri, you can go to Kentucky, you can go to Indiana," Barger said. "Their state is working to keep employers in their communities."

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Services, 2,050 people filed unemployment claims in the 16 southern-most counties of Illinois during the month of January.

The most reported regional job losses in January happened in: 452 in Williamson County, 266 in Franklin County, 244 in Jefferson 241 in Jackson County,  235 in Saline County, and 144 in Perry County.

Barger said many of those job losses came from the coal mining industry.

"Quite frankly I'm ashamed of what is going on with the state of Illinois," Barger said.

On Tuesday, a 24-year old Army Veteran walked Barger's Marion office seeking assistance in finding a job.

Bryant Welsh said he hasn't had a stable job for nearly three years. He said he's taken up odd jobs like mowing grass to support his 5-year-old daughter. The Marion, Ill. transplant is living with his sister until he can get back on his feet.

"Right now it's just anything to keep food on the table, toys in my daughter's toy box, clothes on her back," Welsh said.

"Depressing really, because I have no income," Welsh said. "At this point in time anything, because I need something to help get started."

Illinois has gained more than 50,000 jobs since 2015, according to the IDES. But that hasn't been enough to replace the jobs lost.

In Missouri, the unemployment rate for February was 4.2 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent.

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