Unemployment Hits Rockford Hard

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Rockford's unemployment rate is even higher than the national average. According to the latest numbers, seven percent of the city's eligible workers are without a job.

There's no shortage of people coming to the Illinois Employment and Training Center looking for jobs and help to make ends meet. But there is a serious shortage of jobs, and job seekers are getting frustrated.

Since losing her pharmaceutical sales job six months ago, Ann Conner spends her days at the Illinois Employment and Training Center hunting for a job.

"It's been going in spurts this summer. I would interview a couple of positions and come really close but not get them then i would go back and there would not be any opportunities for a couple of weeks and then all of the sudden they're would be three or four,” says Conner.

When Ann lost her job last April she lost her benefits shortly after. Now she collects unemployment, which will expire in a matter of weeks, turning up the job search pressure.

"I’ll guess I’ll have to work two or three jobs whatever it takes. I'm certainly anxious to get a full-time job. And get back to my normal life,” comments Conner.

The job training center offers people the tools and training to find a job but unfortunately there aren't a lot of jobs out there.

Swanson says "It's very difficult in this area right now, a lot of people are looking outside this area and we're encouraging them to do that,” says Kris Swanson, resource center coordinator.

So for job seekers it comes down to flexibility, persistence and maybe a handful of part-time jobs without health benefits.

As Rockford residents seek jobs outside of the city, unfortunately the situation isn't looking much better elsewhere. According to national statistics the rate of jobless claims continues to rise while the help wanted index is at a four year low, meaning businesses just aren't hiring across the board.

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Unemployment Stats in Rockford Over the Past 10 Years

  • 1991: 8.2 percent
  • 1992: 8.8 percent
  • 1993: 9.0 percent
  • 1994: 5.5 percent
  • 1995: 4.2 percent
  • 1996: 4.8 percent
  • 1997: 4.7 percent
  • 1998: 4.5 percent
  • 1999: 4.5 percent
  • 2000: 4.7 percent
  • 2001: 6.2 percent
  • 2002: Jul. 7.7 percent

National Unemployment Rate

  • 2002: Aug. 5.7 percent

Source: www.bls.gov (Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site) contributed to this report.