jobless unemployment 102709
McLean County last month posted its worst July unemployment rate since at least the 1970s, even as some other Pantagraph communities made headway. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file) Mark Lennihan

BLOOMINGTON — McLean County last month posted its worst July unemployment rate since at least the 1970s, even as some other Pantagraph communities made headway.

McLean County’s jobless rate hit 8.4 percent last month, up from 7.7 percent in July 2009 and 8 percent in June, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Thursday.

July’s rate — the highest July since the state began tracking it this way in 1976 — is a far cry from its 3.9 percent recorded that month in 2007, just before the recession began.

The statewide rate, non-seasonally adjusted, is at 10.6 percent, with the U.S. at 9.7 percent.

There are some positive signs. McLean County’s year-over-year increase was only 0.7 percentage points — well below the 3.3-point jump seen as recently as January — meaning jobs are still being lost but at a slower pace.

Indeed, the county lost an estimated 300 nonfarm jobs from July to July, bringing the work force down to 86,900 positions. But in January, that year-over-year loss was 2,000 jobs. And the Bloomington-Normal area is still tied with the Quad Cities for the lowest jobless rate among Illinois’ 12 metro areas.

“The immediacy of monthly data as it trickles up or down does not overshadow the long-term trends that show our state moving in the right direction,” IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell said in a statement.

Area counties

Meanwhile, Livingston, Tazewell and Woodford counties saw their year-over-year jobless rates fall last month. Woodford and Tazewell counties are part of the Peoria metro area, which was buoyed by adding back 600 manufacturing jobs, plus others in the professional-business and education-health services sectors.

Statewide, the manufacturing sector added 3,800 jobs in July, the fifth consecutive monthly jump and the sector’s best showing since April 1995.

O’Donnell, in a statement, warned that a “skills gap” has emerged for those trying to find work, because the skills required at the beginning of the recession may not be enough to secure a job today.

Other area counties and their July 2010 (June 2010) rates include: LaSalle, 13.3 percent (13.2); Livingston, 10.5 (10.2); Tazewell, 10.5 (10.1); Ford, 10.4 (10.1); Logan, 9.9 (9.7); DeWitt, 9.3 (9.0); and Woodford, 8 (7.9).

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