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Peoria area unemployment rate hits 5%, number of jobs increases from April to May

How can the Greater Peoria region emphasize and improve the area's quality of life? That question was one of the big topics at the 2023 Big Table gathering at the Peoria Civic Center.
Joe Deacon
Peoria saw an estimated 1,500 new jobs added from April to May this year. But there was an estimated decrease of 100 jobs from May 2023 to May 2024, according to a state report.

The Peoria area saw an increase in jobs from April to May, but unemployment is still up from last year.

That’s according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s May 2024 report. Preliminary numbers show unemployment is at 5%, compared to 4.6% in May 2023.

Every metropolitan area in the state of Illinois saw a similar increase except Rockford and Decatur. Bloomington-Normal went from 3.6% to 4.2%, Springfield from 3.9% to 4.2% and the Quad Cities from 4.2% to 4.4%.

Chris Setti, CEO of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, says there are some good indicators that the unemployment rate will improve. One of those indicators is number of people who reported themselves as employed, which increased from April to May

“We also saw a jump in what's called the labor force,” Setti said. “People who are working or looking for work, that's also a good sign when we see people rushing back into the workforce to the labor force and looking for work again.”

Setti says the council’s job board currently has more than 1,400 jobs posted. He hopes that plus the increase in people actively looking for jobs will lead to future growth.

He said the number of jobs is still recovering from a dip in the beginning of the year, but overall has remained fairly steady.

Greater Peoria lost 100 jobs from May 2023 to May 2024, but gained 1,500 jobs from April to May 2024. Currently, there are an estimated 171,500 nonfarm jobs.

“The lowest point was January, where we were at 167,500 jobs according to IDES, and then have bounced back up, so it's all perspective, right?” Setti said. “Everything's relative, we've been hovering around this 170 number, in the low 170s, for a while now.”

Setti said the area has been in the low 170’s since January 2020, with major decreases happening during the pandemic.

He said he’s encouraged by job growth in the manufacturing sector.

“What happens on the kind of global stages, that's going to impact here, and so we haven't seen any kind of global slowdown that has impacted them well, we need to make less bulldozers or we need to make less mining trucks,” he said.

Setti said growth in manufacturing is good because the sector supports other facets of Peoria’s economy, such as retail and hospitality.

But there’s always room for improvement.

“I'll never be satisfied because if ever there are people who are, who want to work and can't find it, then that's an issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.

He said Peoria benefits from numerous workforce development initiatives through Illinois Central College, Eureka College, Bradley University and Peoria Public Schools.

Read more: Grant-funded $14.2M IT workforce program aims to address sector’s rapidly growing employment needs

Setti said workforce development is shifting to recognize inequities in Peoria, with people in some areas facing more barriers to these programs.

“Just saying that, you can go get this programming over here, or these jobs are available over here, doesn't always recognize the significant barriers that many people who are living in poverty face, whether that's childcare, or transportation, or motivation or skills,” he said. “So it takes a lot to get all of those things addressed and solved.”

Setti said the colleges and Peoria Public Schools are also working with companies to ensure their workforce development programs align with growing job sectors.

Camryn Cutinello is a reporter and digital content director at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@illinoisstate.edu.