SPRINGFIELD – The statewide unemployment rate in Illinois fell three-tenths of a percentage point in March, to 7.1 percent, as the daily count of new COVID-19 cases and the case positivity rate appeared to be leveling.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that preliminary numbers show employers added 32,200 nonfarm jobs during the month, with the biggest gains showing up in the leisure and hospitality sector, which took the biggest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other industries posting gains included construction, and business and professional services. The information sector, which includes the media, financial activities and government employment, all posted modest job losses.
“Today’s data is a positive step in the right direction in restoring the workforce a year after the COVID-19 pandemic devastated state and national economies and left thousands jobless,” Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes said in a statement. “While there is still more work to recover from the effects of this virus, the Pritzker administration remains fully committed to supporting claimants and dislocated workers and getting our economy back on track.”
The preliminary estimates reflect activity the week of Friday, March 12. The preliminary jobs numbers for February that were released last month were revised upwards to reflect the addition of 37,300 jobs that month, although the estimated unemployment rate in February was unchanged, at 7.4 percent.
IDES also reported Thursday that first-time unemployment claims rose during the week that ended April 10 to 18,986, a 17 percent increase from the prior week. But that also reflected an 87 percent decline from the same week a year ago, when 140,787 workers filed initial claims.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 238,016 were receiving continuing unemployment benefits during the week that ended April 3, down 3.4 percent from the week before.
Meanwhile, data from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed signs that the recent surge of COVID-19 cases may be leveling.
IDPH said Thursday that 3,581 new confirmed and probable cases of the disease had been reported over the previous 24 hours. That number has hovered between 3,000 and 4,000 each day for about the last 10 days. The case positivity rate – new cases as a percent of tests performed – held steady from the previous day at 4.2 percent.
IDES also reported Thursday that 40 virus-related deaths had occurred over the previous 24 hours, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 21,609.
As of late Wednesday night, 2,043 Illinoisans were reported hospitalized with the disease, including 468 patients in intensive care units and 190 patients on ventilators.
Also as of Wednesday night, more than 7.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered. The seven-day rolling average of doses administered daily stood at 129,317.