DeKalb County unemployment rate rising

By Steve Carasso

DeKalb County’s unemployment rate continued to increase at the end of 1991 and the prospects for improvement won’t be appearing anytime soon.

Figures released from the Illinois Department of Employment Security show December 1991 as the highest month for unemployment in DeKalb County over the last two years.

Although figures are not ready, January 1992 appears to be following the trend of higher unemployment, said Norman Kelewitz, labor market economist for the Department of Employment Security regional office in Aurora.

However, it is not unusual for January to have a higher unemployment rate, Kelewitz said.

“It is typical for January to be high,” he said. “This is due to seasonal construction layoffs and also due to businesses letting go of workers hired for the Christmas season.”

Last year, the lowest unemployment rate was in May (4.9 percent) and the highest was December (8.7 percent). However, Kelewitz said it’s difficult to compare specific months during one year because the percentages are based on a local level.

“Measuring one month in 1990 and comparing it to the same month in 1991 is a better way to show the effects of the national economy,” Kelewitz said.

For example, by comparing DeKalb County’s unemployment rates for December 1990 with that of December 1991, one can see how poor the economy has become. December 1990’s rate was 4.8 percent compared to December 1991’s rate of 8.7 percent, almost a 4 percent increase.

The decline of manufacturing is a major factor in the unemployment rates, Kelewitz said. Manufacturing is directly tied to the national economy.

When the economy is bad, people can’t afford to buy non-essential goods, causing manufacturers to produce less, and in return, worker’s jobs have to be cut, Kelewitz said.

Although the unemployment rate for DeKalb County is considerably higher, it’s not as bad as other Illinois counties, such as Kankakee County, where the rate is 11.5 percent. The state unemployment rate is 9.2 percent.

“DeKalb County is in fairly good shape,” Kelewitz said. “The unemployment rate usually runs lowest in the state.”

DeKalb County has the 15th lowest unemployment rate in the

state. There is a major reason for this, according to Kelewit

“NIU, or any government employment, is not really affected by the recession,” Kelewitz said. Education is very desirable and people would rather sacrifice their money toward education than to spend it on high cost products, he said.

However, there may be some good news on the horizon. “Economists are predicting the national economy to pick up later this year,” Kelewitz said. “But these are the same people who predicted the recession to be over a few months ago.”