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Chicago Area Unemployment Decreases for 5th Consecutive Month

March 30, 2012

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released preliminary February 2012 unemployment figures for the 50 states (and Washington, DC), as well as 4 Census Regions and 9 Census Divisions. Unemployment rates in the Midwest, Illinois and the Chicago metro division all decreased from last month, and the Midwest posted the lowest rate (7.5%) among the major Census regions for the third consecutive month.

There were an estimated 364,081 unemployed residents of a labor force of 4.07 million in the 8-county Chicago Metro Division, for a seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 8.9% – lower than the rate of 9.3% one year ago and also down from 9.5% in January 2012 – marking the fifth consecutive monthly rate decline.

The following chart summarizes the trend in monthly unemployment rates for Illinois, the Midwest Region, and the East North Central and Chicago metropolitan divisions, while the map illustrates the geographic range and concentration of state unemployment rates. (Note: all figures cited below are seasonally adjusted. Information reflects model reestimation and new seasonal adjustment. February 2012 values for Illinois and the Chicago metropolitan division are preliminary).

Monthly Unemployment Rate

Seasonally Adjusted, February 2011-February 2012(p)       


Unemployment Rates by State, February 2012(p)

U.S. Rate = 8.3 percent



Source: US Dept of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chicago-Joliet-Naperville Metropolitan Division
(includes 8 IL counties: Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, McHenry, Will; excludes Lake County)

  • The decrease in the number of unemployed from 388,249 in January to 364,081 in February, coupled with a slightly smaller labor force, resulted in a preliminary unemployment rate of 8.9% (lower than the February 2011 rate of 9.3% and the January 2012 rate of 9.5).


  • The number of unemployed decreased by 21,476 from 620,069 in January to a preliminary figure of 598,593 in February, resulting in an unemployment rate of 9.1% – lower than both the prior year’s and prior month’s rate.

East North Central Division
(includes 5 states: IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)

  • Decrease in the number of unemployed (-47,101) somewhat offset by an increase in the labor force (+28,514) resulted in a decrease in the unemployment rate from 8.5% in January to 8.3% in February.

Midwest Region
(includes 12 states: IL, IN, MI, OH, WI, IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD)

  • The unemployment rate decreased to 7.5% in February from 7.7% in January – the South region also experienced a decrease, while the Northeast region increased slightly (the West remained the same).
  • Lower rate than the West (9.6%), South (8.0%), and Northeast (8.0%).


The full press release can be found on the BLS website.