DeKalb county sees unemployment rates decrease


In this file photo freshman psychology major Rachel Menor makes a smoothie at the smoothie counter inside the Campus Recreation Center.

By Thomas Verschelde

Unemployment in DeKalb County decreased by 2.2 percent in February from last year, according to data released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Department spokesman Greg Rivara said this is the 14th consecutive month in which the unemployment rate has dropped in Illinois.

“We are adding jobs, more people are working,” Rivara said. “Has it hit every house? No. But it is undeniable that the Illinois economy is doing better than two years ago.”

Rivara said that, in this stage of the economy’s recovery, it would not be strange to see the unemployment increase a little bit.

“The unemployment rate measures those out of work and looking for work,” Rivara said. “As long as people are seeking work they are counted as unemployed. Some people have stopped looking for work because they have become discouraged. As this group of discouraged workers see people finding work, they will re-energize their job search and they again will be counted in unemployment. So it is possible to see up and down movements in this stage of recovery.”

Many new businesses have opened in DeKalb County, while other businesses have opened new locations in the area. These businesses include 3M, 3050 Corporate Drive, DeKalb; Hobby Lobby, 2500 Sycamore Road, DeKalb; SK Hand Tools, 1600 S. Prairie Drive, Sycamore; Smart Motion Robotics, 805 Thornwood Drive, Sycamore; among many others.

“The economy is starting to rebound and I think it has a lot to do with small businesses doing better and some major industries in the area are expanding which means more jobs for more people,” said DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen.

According to March data from IDES, the unemployment rate in DeKalb County is at 8.8 percent, which is the same as Illinois and the U.S. in general.

While many people are optimistic, Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said they are still a long way off from the ideal situation.

Mundy said it is businesses that created jobs, not the government.

“A lot of our recovery hinges on the actions of Congress,” Mundy said. “When taxes are increased for businesses it directly effects how many employees they can keep. We need to stop putting down the businesses and let capitalism and free enterprise go to work.”

The upturn in unemployment can be attributed to many different reasons, one is the arrival of new businesses.

“We have had some big industrial projects moving in,” said Joe Misurelli, member of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation and city administrator of Genoa. “We have seen a big resurgence in DeKalb County. Lots of people are looking at opening up stores and expanding their businesses.”

New business is not the only reason that the unemployment numbers are improving.

“People are running out of their unemployment benefits and others are taking lower-paying jobs than they were three years ago,” Mundy said. “These are factors in calculating the unemployment number. We shouldn’t be disillusioned by these numbers. There are many families here in Sycamore where people are still unemployed or ‘underemployed.'”

While the reason for the upturn is debatable, the economy of DeKalb County is getting better, even if only by a little, Povlsen said.

“We are starting to see a slow but steady increase in sales tax returns and what this means is DeKalb citizens are spending more money,” Povlsen said.