PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Department of Labor on Friday released its monthly jobs report, showing the national unemployment rate fell from 5.1% to 4.8%.
The report shows 194,000 jobs were created in September, fewer than the projected 500,000. The sectors with the largest gains were hospitality and leisure, professional and business services, and retail trade.
Chris Setti, CEO of Greater Peoria Economic Development Council called the job numbers “disappointing because the projection was higher.”
Setti said local employers are still have problems filling positions.
“We’ve got literally, this is not hyperbole, thousands of jobs open in the region right now. Between OSF and UnityPoint alone we probably have 1,000 jobs,” he said.
He said job seekers continue to have the upper hand on employers.
“Because it’s a buyer’s market, people might be playing the field a little bit and trying to understand what job opportunities are out there,” Setti said.
Kathryn Fife, employment specialist at Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency in Peoria, said “people just aren’t applying.”
Fife said typically, they have 50 to 70 jobs available, but now they have 262 positions to fill. She said she has seen companies increase pay rates more than 20% to attract applicants.
“Employees know they have the upper hand, and they are not settling for lower pay and no benefits anymore,” she said. “We need people to really be proactive in helping our economy get back on its feet, that starts with jobs.”
She said vaccine and mask mandates complicate the situation.
“A lot of people are having a problem with the mandatory vaccinations at some locations, and even if they’re vaccinated they still have to wear masks at work. So that’s been a deterrence. We’ve had people turn down jobs because of that,” she said.
Both Setti and Fife said they expect the local jobs report, which is released several weeks after the national report, to follow the same trend.