CFL News
February 07, 2012

Ill.gains manufacturing jobs for first time in 10 years

Illinois companies added nearly 3,500 industrial jobs in the last year, showing signs that manufacturing is still an important segment of the state's economy

Source: Chicago Tribune

By Sandra Jones

Manufacturing employment in Illinois rose last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to a report released Tuesday.

Illinois companies added 3,496 industrial jobs in the 12 months ended November 2011, rising a half percent, to 817,063, said the report from Manufacturers' News Inc. Illinois is home to 19,111 manufacturers, the report said.

"It's unlikely that manufacturing employment will ever return to the levels of ten years ago, but it's nice to see the uptick," said Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston-based publishing company, which has been surveying the manufacturing industry for 100 years.

Bright spots included Chrysler's recent announcement that it planned to hire 1,800 workers for its Belvidere assembly facility and the opening of a new Boeing plant in Mascoutah. Likewise, more jobs are on tap as part of the plant expansions planned at Caterpillar and Ford.

"Despite a high corporate tax rate, Illinois still boasts an educated workforce, easy access to capital, and a central location within the Midwest to do business," said Dubin.

Regions experiencing growth included the Southern and East Central parts of the state along with DuPage, Lake and Kane Counties, the report said.

Chicago, home to the largest concentration of manufacturing jobs, lost 932 in the 12-month period, a drop of less than 1 percent, to 106,980 workers, the report said. Elk Grove Village, which accounts for the second-biggest number of industrial jobs, saw industry employment fall 1.8 percent, to 20,333. Rockford and Decatur, ranked third and fourth, saw no significant change. Fifth-ranked Elgin saw its industrial employment rise 5.4 percent

Industrial sectors that gained jobs included transportation equipment, up 5.2 percent; instruments and related products, up 2.4 percent; rubber and plastics, up 1 percent; and electronics, up a half percent.

Among the sectors losing jobs were lumber and wood, down 4.8 percent; printing and publishing, down 4.6 percent; furniture and fixtures, down 4.5 percent; and paper products, down 4 percent.