Reported and written by Hannah Lutz.
Unemployment rates in Evanston haven’t fully rebounded to pre-recession levels, but the local job market appears to be improving.
In 2012, 6.8 percent of Evanston residents were unemployed, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The highest unemployment rate Evanston has seen in the last 10 years was 7.9 percent in 2010. Eight years earlier, in 2002, 5.8 percent of Evanston residents were unemployed. Comparing these figures, unemployment remains higher than it was ten years ago, as Evanston recovers from the effects of the recession. Still, there’s good news to be had: unemployment dropped 1.3 percent from 7.5 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent in 2012.
So where are the jobs, and who is looking?
Matthew Daigler works for the National Able Network, part of Illinois Worknet, which assists job seekers by placing them with case managers, conducting workshops and connecting them with potential employers. His office is located in the Evanston Public Library’s main branch downtown.
Daigler said that his clients come from all walks of life and professional backgrounds.
“It definitely runs the gamut,” he said. “I have clients who have GEDs and I had a client who had a PhD. Some clients have masters degrees.”
Daigler said that close to half of his job-seeking clients have at least a bachelor’s degree, and he has worked with clients who previously made six figures or more.
According to Daigler, many secure job openings in the northern Cook County area are in fields like manufacturing and machine operating.
The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership 2012 Fourth Quarter report stated that careers with the most job openings include web development, computer systems and marketing management. The top positions in demand are computer and mathematical, according to the report.
Compared to the rest of Cook County, Evanston’s unemployment rate is significantly lower. Cook County currently stands at a 10.8 percent unemployment rate for June 2013, 1.5 percent higher than the 9.3 percent unemployment rate the county had in 2012. In 2002, Cook County had an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent, still 2.4 percent higher than Evanston’s rate at the time.
The picture is similar at the state level. As of June 2013, the Illinois unemployment rate was 9.8 percent. The state’s unemployment rate is 3.3 percent higher than in 2002. It began to decline in 2004 but then started to rise again in 2007.
The national rate followed a similar pattern. In 2002, the rate was 5.8 percent, 1.8 percent lower than in June 2013. The national unemployment rate began to dip in 2004 before it rose to 5.8 percent in 2008 and jumped to 9.3 percent in 2009. According to the latest figures, the national unemployment rate is now 7.4 percent.