MORRIS – May was a good month for the Grundy County workforce as unemployment numbers dropped to their lowest point since 2008, when the recession hit.
As of May, the county’s unemployment rate was at 7.6 percent, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is nearly 3 percentage points lower than the rate in May 2013, which was 10.3 percent.
“It’s certainly really good news,” Grundy Economic Development Council CEO Nancy Norton Ammer said. “It’s the lowest it’s been in the last six years.”
According to information from the GEDC, average unemployment through May of last year was 12.5 percent. This year, it is significantly lower at 9.9 percent.
Pinpointing a cause for the decrease in unemployment is difficult, Ammer said, but she noted there always is a substantial decrease between the winter and the summer as more of the county’s seasonal workers become employed.
In February, Grundy’s unemployment rate was one of the highest in the state at 11.7 percent; however, going from a high to a drastically lower rate is a typical pattern.
“I think a lot of it is our seasonal workers are getting back to work after that long, brutal winter,” Ammer said.
Still, May’s figures are remarkably lower than they have been, indicating growth in the local job landscape.
According to analysis from the GEDC, construction, retail trade and wholesale trades had the most private sector job growth in Grundy County in the last year.
“We have been better all year. I mean, this is a great, low number, but we’ve been doing better since the start of this year,” GEDC research analyst Doug Pryor said.
Ammer said in the last year, the county has brought in some new major employers, including Trader Joe’s, which already has brought several jobs to the area and is anticipated to eventually employ 500 people, according to information from the GEDC.
Additional investments in the community could help curb joblessness.
Inland Logistics Park is scheduled for construction in Coal City. Also planned are an expansion to the Utility Concrete Products facility in Channahon and the addition of NFI Industries to Minooka’s Prologis Park. Those three investments are slated to bring more than 300 jobs to the area, according to GEDC data.
“It’s all good news,” Ammer said. “It’s just really difficult to categorize it. We can’t point and say, ‘Our rate fell because of these workers,’ but we’re very happy to see it go down.”
Grundy County’s largest private sector job growth industries, year-over-year for 2013-14
2. Retail Trade
3. Wholesale Trade
4. Health Care
5. Transportation and Warehousing