DeKalb’s unemployment rate slowly stabilizes

By Amelia E. Cruz

The unemployment rate in the DeKalb area is slowly stabilizing even though there has been a decrease in job opportunities, according to an Illinois Department of Employment Security spokesman.

Greg Rivara said he can tell there has been a decrease in job opportunities in the state because he sees a rise in the number of people collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

The annual unemployment rate is continuing to change, said Paul Borek, executive director from the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation.

The data for unemployment showed a decrease throughout 2012, Borek said.

“It has gone down from its annual rate 9.2 percent in 2011,” Borek said. “It was 9.8 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 2009.”

Rivara said there are ways to make a person more marketable even when job opportunities are limited.

“Identify the many skills and careers that relate to what you want to do so you can expand on job opportunities,” Rivara said.

Although there are not many job opportunities at the moment, the economy has been gradually increasing, according to Borek.

“The economy has been improving since the last two years,” Borek said. “The unemployment rates vary month to month due to a variety of season factors from January to February after the holidays. It is higher than November to December due to the increase of retail sales and decreased construction during winter.”

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for 2012 was 8.3 percent, down from 9.2 percent in 2011 and 9.8 percent in 2010 and 2009, Borek said. Annual employment in DeKalb County in 2012 was 54,458, up from 53,434 in 2010.

“We had our ups and downs,” said Mayor Kris Povlsen. “We tend to be stable because of our largest employers, Northern Illinois and Kishwaukee Community Hospital. Because we don’t have a large manufacturing plant, Northern relatively [stabilizes] the employment of DeKalb.”

Employment in DeKalb has been decreasing within health care and manufacturing, but businesses are making change.

“Businesses are seeking growth by adding new business equipment and hiring,” Borek said. “Rate of growth is modern, but there is some growth occurring in DeKalb.”

DeKalb citizen Habeeb Durojaiye has been struggling to find a job in DeKalb. He has applied to more than three jobs in the past year and has not had any response.

“I feel upset because I don’t have a source of income but I know why,” Durojaiye said. “…The economy is bad and jobs are competitive; even the low-wage jobs are competitive. People with degrees are even struggling and trying to work for the lower-wage jobs since there are fewer jobs available for the community.”