(The Center Square) – Illinois is lagging behind the rest of the nation in terms of economic recovery and minorities have been hit the hardest, according to a report from the Illinois Policy Institute.
Illinoisans have seen a recent decrease in unemployment amongst Hispanic and White workers. Despite the labor market recovery, the employment rate of Black workers is 5.4 percentage points lower when compared to a year ago.
Bryce Hill, of the Illinois Policy Institute, said that the increased unemployment has to do with industries that employ many Black Illinoisans had been shut down.
"One of the most affected industries was the leisure and hospitality industries," Hill said. "Those industries tend to have more African-American workers than other industries, so when those jobs are affected black Illinoisans are also affected."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality sectors have seen a 35% increase in unemployment over the last 12 months.
Research from the Illinois Policy Institute found Black working-age Illinoisans have been hit hardest by COVID-19, with that group’s employment still 11.3% lower than projected in the absence of the pandemic.
In comparison, employment is 7.4% lower than projected for working-age white Illinoisans and 8.3% lower for prime working-age Hispanic Illinoisans, according to the Illinois Policy Institute report.
Hill said that the increase in unemployment for black Illinoisans has a lot to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The unemployment rate for black non-Hispanic Illinoisans is down 5.4% from last year," Hill said. "The gap in unemployment from 2019 to 2020 is widening due to the pandemic."
Illinois currently ranks 44th in unemployment with 7.2 percent of workers unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.