The Quad-Cities unemployment rate in May of 6.6 percent was the lowest it has been since December 2008, when it was 6 percent, according Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
Jobless rates for May dropped inevery metropolitan area in Illinois for an unprecedented ninth consecutive month, IDES said in a news release. That has not occurred since this data has been collected starting in 1976.The largest percentage declines were in Rockford,Danville, Kankakee and Peoria, but the Q-C area fell to the third-lowest jobless rate in the state, behind Bloomington-Normal (5.9 percent) and Springfield (6.2 percent).
"Over the past year, Illinois has gained in several areas, including manufacturing and transportation,"IDES director Jay Rowellsaid in the release.
The Quad-Cities had among the largest increases in non-farm jobs over the past year, a jump of 2,600. Of the total labor force of 205,110 people in May, there were 13,535 out of work, according to IDES. The strongest local growth industries areconstruction, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality services, IDES labor market analyst Tom Austin said Friday.
"There'sgrowth in several industry sectors -- strongest in manufacturing," he said, noting his data didn't break down what types of manufacturing had most growth.
"We're making progress," Tara Barney, CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, said Friday. "Manufacturing is doing very well for us. We have leads and inquiries in logistics as well. That's a real strength, and white-collar jobs have been increasing as well. We're generating a lot more looks."
The Q-C area also has a larger total labor force compared to a year ago -- an increase of 2,553 people.
"That is a positive sign," Mr. Austin said. "The area is retaining its labor force, and people moving from unemployed to employed. That shows stability in labor force, individuals staying in the area, taking opportunities that are there."
The current 6.6 percent unemployment rate (down from 7.1 percent in April)compares to an overall Illinois rate of 9 percent in May, and a national rate of 8.7 percent, with13.4 million people are out of work.
The Rock Island County Board decided this week again not to contribute a requested $35,000 for Quad Cities First, the chamber's marketing arm to attract jobs from outside the area.
"That could be an employee; our budgets are very tough," board chairman Jim Bohnsack -- who sits on the 17-member Q-C First board -- said. "The county has always supported it. It's just a tough situation, to give that kind of money, when it's needed for employees."
"We really need to be cautious." he said, noting the county was not able to contribute in 2010-11 either. "They've been gracious enough to work with us."
Through Q-C First (a public/private partnership), the area targets specific industries that are desirable and appropriate to the region, including finance, insurance, real estate, food and packaging, metals, instrument manufacturing, wind energy, and professional/technical jobs.
The organization is funded with$360,000 public-sector dollars, and about $600,000 from the private sector, Ms. Barney said.
"Everyone's got great intentions, and wants to do the best they can on the part of the community," she said of Rock Island County. "I'm hopeful when they get their budget in order, they'll come back. They have always been part of the partnership of the community, to promote ourselves as a region."
"We have seen strong continued support from the public sector as well as private sector investors," saidDave Green, Quad Cities First board chairman, who noted no other area government has withheld financial support.
Today is Saturday, May 25, the 145th day of 2013. There are 220 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: The annual review of the fire department of this city took placeyesterday and made a fine showing with machines and hose carts in tip-top order. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Last night's prayer meeting at Central Presbyterian Church wascalled off due to water in the basement, residue of last week's flood. 1913 -- 100 years ago: The junior class of Rock Island High School will hold a riverexcursion on the steamer St. Paul next Tuesday. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The 75th Anniversary of the Rock Island Arsenal today finds thenation's largest ordinance manufacturing plant filling many important orders for the army. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Miss Patrice Daly, Rock Island, a senior at Rock Island HighSchool, won second place in the recent state public speaking contest held in Peoria underthe auspices of the Knights of Pythias. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Hampton's sesquicentennial committee and the Hampton HistoricalSociety have scheduled a full slate of activities, which will be held throughout the year, to celebrate the village's 150th birthday. The first celebration will be the Memorial Dayprogram at 10 a.m. May 30, at the Brettun and Black Store Museum on River Road. Therewill be a sesquicentennial display.