EFFINGHAM — Full employment is generally considered to be about 5 percent unemployment. According to statistics released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Effingham County is nearing that magic number.
The county's unemployment rate was 5.8 percent for May, according to the IDES, down from both 6.5 percent in April and 6.6 percent last May. Effingham was one of the few counties that saw a decline in the jobless rate between April and May. Labor market economist Dennis Hoffman said it's standard for unemployment rates to rise in May because of the number of new high school and college graduates entering the workforce.
While most area counties saw increases in their respective jobless rates between April and May, Hoffman said the overall picture shows a significant decline in unemployment rates over the last several years.
"We're a long way from the 10, 11, 12 percent figures of three years ago," Hoffman said. "There's been a slow, gradual increase in the number of employed."
In this area, seasonal employment gains occurred in the construction and recreation sectors, as well as wholesale and retail trade, and transportation.
Hoffman conceded that some of the decline can be attributed to job seekers leaving the area, as well as a number of people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.
Here is a list of May unemployment rates in other area counties:
• Cumberland, 6.6 percent, up from 6.5 percent in April, but down from 8.2 percent last May; Shelby, 6.9 percent, down from 7 percent in April and 8.1 percent last May; Clay, 8.7 percent, down from 8.9 percent in April and 9.3 percent last May; Fayette, 8.5 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April, but down from 9.1 percent last May; Jasper, 6.9 percent, up from 6.4 percent in April, but down from 7.7 percent last May; Marion, 9 percent, up from 8.4 percent in April, but down from 10.2 percent last May.
Bill Grimes may be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, at email@example.com, or via Twitter @EDNBGrimes.