State unemployment lowest in five years, high nationally

Apr 17, 2014

Illinois' unemployment rate dropped last month -- to the lowest level in more than five years. But the state still has one of the worst rates in the country. 

Unemployment in March dropped to 8.4 percent, down three-tenths from the previous month. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the cold and snowy weather in March, coupled with continuing job losses in the government sector, means new hiring was disappointing.

Although the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since January 2009, Illinois still lags the national average by more than one-and-a-half percentage points.

"We've recovered very slowly from the Great Recession."

Fred Giertz is an economist at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. He says Illinois was slower to feel the effects of the recession, and has been slower to come out of it.

"And the question is whether we'll eventually catch up, or whether we're going to lag behind for a long time."

Giertz says there's no one thing to blame, but he says disarray in the state's finances coupled with the income tax increase a few years ago have not helped.