Jobless rate higher in only Vermilion County
Vermilion was the only county in East Central Illinois with a January unemployment rate higher than a year ago, data from the state Department of Employment Security shows.
Vermilion County's unemployment rate was 12.5 percent, up from 11.9 percent in January 2013. The unemployment rate in its county seat, Danville, was even higher — 13.4 percent, up from 12.6 percent a year earlier.
An estimated 4,405 people in Vermilion County were out of work and looking for a job in January, the department said. At the same time, 30,886 people there were employed.
The Danville metropolitan area — which takes in all of Vermilion County — was the only metro area in the state with a higher unemployment rate than a year ago.
During the past year, the Danville metro area lost 400 manufacturing jobs, most of them at Freight Car America, which announced last spring it would lay off more than 250 workers from its local plant due to a drop in railcar orders.
The Danville area also lost 300 government jobs and 100 jobs in the educational-health services sector. But it gained jobs in several other sectors, including retail trade and leisure-hospitality, for a net loss of 200 jobs.
John Alexander, a Vermilion County Board member, said he's concerned not only about unemployment but underemployment as well — those workers not getting enough hours or being in jobs that don't fully utilize their abilities and education.
Alexander said he continues to hear from local employers about their challenges in finding workers with the right skill sets — among other qualifications.
"The situation with passing physicals and drug tests is a very major problem," he said.
Meanwhile, the Champaign-Urbana metro area — which takes in Champaign, Piatt and Ford counties — had a January unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, down from 9.1 percent in January 2013.
That was the third-lowest rate among the 11 metro areas in Illinois, behind Bloomington-Normal (7.7 percent) and Springfield (8.2 percent).
The C-U metro area added 600 jobs in leisure-hospitality, 500 government jobs and 400 professional-business services jobs over the year. It saw losses in several sectors, including manufacturing, for a net year-over-year gain of 1,400 jobs.
Champaign County's unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in January, down from 9 percent a year earlier.
An estimated 8,304 Champaign County residents were out of work and looking for a job in January, while 90,769 were employed, the department said.
Unemployment rates for January
Locale 2014 2013
U.S. 7% 8.5%
Illinois 9.1% 10.2%
Champaign 8.1% 8.8%
Urbana 8.9% 9.3%
Danville 13.4% 12.6%