ROCKFORD (WIFR) – For the first time since 2008 the Rockford region doesn't have the highest unemployment rate in the state. Our gain is another town's loss, and that is Decatur.
New jobless numbers out today put us at 11.2%, which is .6 percentage points behind Decatur for the month of December.
We're down more than a full percentage point from this time last year. To put all that into context, and give us a look ahead at 2013, we caught up with economic expert John Lewis this afternoon.
“As the economy shows signs of picking up, you’re going to have people coming back into the labor market. So I think it’s going to be a challenge to see a significant decline in the unemployment rate, but I do see an improvement in the economy over the year,” said Lewis.
Unfortunately, our good news may be short lived. One of Decatur’s biggest employers issued a bunch of temporary layoffs last month and most of those employees are now back at work. So Rockford’s January jobless numbers could worsen.