The Champaign-Urbana area has lost 2,600 jobs in the last year — most of them government positions, according to newly released statistics that also show unemployment was higher than a year ago.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that unemployment rose to 9.3 percent in the Champaign-Urbana area in January, compared with 9 percent in January 2011.
Statewide, the rate was 9.9 percent.
But the difference in both the jobless rate and the number of jobs might be in part because of the timing of the survey this year compared with a year ago. And the rise in unemployment may reflect growing confidence in the economy.
The rise in unemployment could mean that more people are looking for jobs because their overall confidence in the economy is rising, said Greg Rivara, spokesman for the department.
More people looking for work would raise the unemployment rate. People who had stopped looking for work would not be counted and that would have lowered the rate, Rivara noted.
"What it does suggest is, you have more people feeling confident that they'll be able to find work," he said. "That would suggest that consumer confidence is also improving."
In addition, both changes could depend on when the survey was taken this year compared with a year ago; in a university town, whether school was in session or not would affect the rate, he said.
The numbers show a decline of 2,600 jobs for the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Piatt and Ford counties.
Of those, 2,000 were government jobs — which could be municipal, school district, state, county or federal jobs. Another 500 jobs lost were in retail trade.
The declines came even though the number of private-sector jobs statewide has grown by more than 120,000 in the past two years — since January 2010, the department said.
Here are January unemployment rates for area counties and cities, and the numbers for a year earlier: