While unemployment gradually inches downward in Illinois, jobless rates are lower in Chicago's northern suburbs.
Niles’ unemployment rate is 6.7 percent–nearly two percentage points lower than Chicago and well below the 9 percent national average, according to April numbers from the state.
In Decreasing Order:
- Niles - 6.7 percent
- Morton Grove - 6.6 percent
- Skokie - 6.6 percent
- Evanston - 6.4 percent
- Glenview - 5.9 percent
- Wilmette - 5.4 percent
North Shore Unemployment
A tendency toward higher education levels explains a lot, said Greg Rivara, communications manager for the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
People who live in wealthier areas tend to have advanced degrees and training, he said, which both insulates them from the recession-driven layoffs and helps speeds the job search of those who are laid off.
“These are suburbs with populations who tend to be highly educated,” he said, “and education, of course, is the greatest precursor to employment.”
In addition, regardless of the economy, wealthy and retired people are much less likely to show up in unemployment statistics.
Low jobless rates are little comfort to those still looking for work, including a dozen or so who showed up for an employment workshop at the Morton Grove Public Library last week. The Illinois Worknet was the event's host.
Several had been laid off in harder-hit industries or sectors. Others are struggling with language barriers to employment.
Wilmette resident Sherri Gould lost a client services job she had for 10 years at Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing company that suffered as the economic downturn led to fewer people with health insurance, fewer doctor visits and fewer tests being ordered.
“Someone who is unemployed and has just lost their health insurance is not going to go to the doctor,” she said.
There is good news for Gould, who wants to stay in health care, according to state job growth trends. More than 26,000 jobs have been added in the educational and health services sector since state unemployment peaked in January 2010--and 100,300 jobs overall.
Education as Route to Jobs
Education is one place job seekers turn to improve their skills and become more employable.
Haleh S. Kaveh, who immigrated from Iran in March to join family in Morton Grove, has been taking intensive English classes three days each week to get an office management position like the one she held at an architectural firm.
Her English is coming along, her aunt Marilynn Salimi said, but idioms and colloquial expressions are tough to master quickly.
Competition is fierce for the best jobs, workshop leader Fred Ettinger said, and employers are looking for anything–positive or negative--to distinguish among applicants.
Local Government Shrinking
Niles resident Tim Spadoni was recently laid off from a sector that continues to shed jobs: local government.
The information technology specialist was among a handful of full-time and several part-time workers let go this year by the Village of Niles. Because the village is so reliant on property taxes, Spadoni explained, it will be among the last to feel the recovery.
He’s optimistic about his prospects, though.
“I’m reasonably intelligent, moderately good looking and have a stellar personality,” he said. “I should be employable.”