Champaign breaks into top 10 for job hunters
Its No. 6 ranking comes just behind Bloomington; Danville also sees big jump to No. 22
CHAMPAIGN — An online career network claims Champaign is one of the 10 metro areas in the U.S. with the most job opportunities per capita.
The website Beyond.com ranked Champaign as No. 6 on its list of metro areas with the highest number of open jobs and the least competition for them during the third quarter of this year.
Danville didn't make the top 10, but ranked high at No. 22. Both cities improved their standings from a year ago, when Champaign was No. 68 and Danville was No. 137.
Six of this year's top 10 are in the Midwest, including Kokomo, Ind.; Lima, Ohio; Bloomington; Springfield; and Terre Haute, Ind.
Beyond.com said the top three industries that created jobs in Champaign were transportation and logistics; health care and medical; and merchandising, purchasing and retail.
Those happened to be the top three industries for all six Midwestern metro areas that made the top 10.
According to Beyond.com, the top three job titles Champaign employers needed to fill were truck drivers, registered nurses and sales associates.
The easiest jobs to hire for in Champaign, according to the website, were cashiers, housekeepers and accountants.
Eric Ferguson, the Champaign County branch manager for Manpower, said some information from Beyond.com matches up with what he has seen at the employment services firm.
But Ferguson said the study's findings seem at odds with this year's unemployment statistics.
"The big problem you can see for Champaign this year is, our unemployment rate is above the national average," he said. "That's kind of alarming. It doesn't tell me there's a lot of opportunity right now in Champaign County."
It seems odd for Champaign to appear alongside San Jose, Calif., the dynamic center of Silicon Valley, he added.
But Ferguson said Beyond.com is "dead-on" when it identified nurses and truck drivers as the top jobs that local employers need to fill.
"What I call the most difficult-to-fill position in Champaign County is nurses," Ferguson said. "No. 2 is drivers — all kinds of drivers."
Ed Scharlau, vice chairman of Busey Bank, said he was intrigued by Beyond.com's finding that job postings in Champaign grew by 82 percent between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of this year.
"It appears to me there have been more help-wanted ads in The News-Gazette than there have been for a long time," he said.
However, many of those are for University of Illinois-related jobs, and Beyond.com did not list higher education among the top job-creating industries in Champaign, he said.
Scharlau said he was also concerned about conclusions people might draw from Beyond.com's study.
"There are a lot of people out there looking for jobs who haven't found the right match," he said. "It's easy to read this and think all you have to do is fill out an application. We all know people who are unemployed or underemployed, and their skills don't match what places are looking for."
Other Illinois cities listed among Beyond.com's top 50 places to find a job included Decatur at No. 17; Peoria at No. 29 and Rockford at No. 48.
Beyond.com also compiled a list of the 50 easiest places to make a hire, with many of those concentrated in the Southeast.
Palm Bay, Fla., topped that list, followed by Greensboro, N.C.; Warner Robins, Ga.; Hinesville, Ga.; and Miami.
Beyond.com's top 10 places to find a job
1. Jackson, Tenn.
2. San Jose, Calif.
3. Kokomo, Ind.
4. Lima, Ohio.
7. Pittsfield, Mass.
8. Lawton, Okla.
10. Terre Haute, Ind.
Source: Beyond.com Career Trends Analysis Report, Third Quarter 2013.