Illinois' unemployment rate held steady at 9.2 percent in August, the Department of Employment Security said Thursday. That's still among the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Unemployment remained unchanged in the state, even with the addition of a net 5,900 private-sector jobs over the month.
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"We have unemployment not dropping, job growth occurring and significant help wanted ads across the state," department spokesman Greg Rivara said. "It suggests that employers are looking to hire if they can find a very specific candidate at a very specific price.
"The numbers," he added, "reflect a buyers' market for employers."
The help wanted ads, tracked through The Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine Data Series, showed a strong increase in work available for high-turnover professions such as truck drivers and for mainstay employers in health care who hire in good times and bad. But there was also an increase in the number of help-wanted ads posted for marketing managers and other types of jobs that Rivara said haven't bounced back from the economic downturn.
"We're now seeing jobs -- marketing managers, accountants, administrative assistants -- that were among the first to go away with the recession," he said.
Improvements in the market for those types of jobs are reflected in the addition of a net 300 jobs in the professional and business services category in August, and 6,500 over the June-August period.
In all, data from The Conference Board show that online help-wanted ads in Illinois were up about 1 percent in August to 196,999.
Illinois lost a net 4,100 construction jobs in August, the single biggest loss in any industry group for the month, according to the department. Between June and August, Illinois added 3,700 construction jobs, but the sharp drop last month is likely a reflection of the slow pace of new-home building in the state, Rivara said.
August statistics for building permits aren't yet available, but through July 8,139 permits for new-home construction were issued across Illinois, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's up from the roughly 6,700 during the same period in 2012 but well short of the 30,000-plus issued for the same period in 2005 and 2006, during the housing boom.
The country's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in August, the federal government said earlier this month.
Not all states have released their jobless rates for August yet, but in July no state had a higher unemployment rate than Illinois except Nevada's 9.5 percent.