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Local unemployment numbers rebounding, following national trends

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(WEEK) -- Unemployment numbers in Central Illinois continue to rebound from COVID, but at a slower pace than expected, following nationwide trends.

The latest September jobs report shows the U.S. only added 194,000 jobs that month, falling lower than expectations.

Greater Peoria Economic Development Council CEO Chris Setti says locally, the problem isn't a lack of jobs.

"I've never seen it quite like this where we know that there are hundreds and hundreds of open positions that people aren't taking," Setti said.

Setti expects local numbers to keep following national trends. He says there are many reasons why locally, demand for workers is outpacing supply.

"From it pays too low, to it's not an industry I'm interested in, to my family situation doesn't allow me to take advantage of these jobs at the moment," Setti said.

The greater Peoria area's August unemployment rate was 6.2 percent. That figure is still well above February 2020's rate of 4.2 percent.

Meanwhile in McLean County, numbers are also rebounding, with August unemployment at 5.2 percent. Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council CEO Patrick Hoban says job growth there is exceeding national growth.

"Bloomington-Normal is different because during the pandemic we had a major construction project underway which has sped up the process of our job growth as well," Hoban said.

Hoban pointed to Rivian's continued expansion in the area as well as other factory openings as some of the job creation catalysts.

Despite challenges, both are confident in continues growth and lower unemployment in the coming months.

"I think the system will tend to work itself out," Setti said. "People will either adjust to the jobs that are available or employers will adjust to the pool that's available."

September local numbers are expected in the next few weeks.

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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