Pontiac Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
On Aug. 26, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced that, although job growth was slow in areas of the state, the rate of unemployment had also decreased between July 2015 and July 2016 statewide. Both Pontiac and Livingston County saw an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent drop to 5.2 percent in that span.
Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls welcomed the news for Pontiac. “The falling unemployment rate is definitely good news,” he said. “It means that our employers are doing well and, because of that, the unemployment rate is dropping.
Karls declined to speculate on what reasons may or may not have c ontributed to the declining unemployment rate, saying that there were “so many factors to consider,” such as workers residing outside the county being employed by local businesses, as well as how the way that the unemployment rates are tabulated may not absolutely reflect the exact size of the workforce.
Still, the city administrator was optimistic about what the numbers meant for Pontiac, and had echoed conversations he and others in the municipal government had had with employers in the area.
“This is certainly indicative of what we’ve heard from employers — that their employment numbers have remained strong,” he said. Karls referenced the Caterpillar plant in Pontiac, which has added jobs since the intergovernmental incentives and tax abatement agreement finalized in late January, signed by the company, the City of Pontiac, the Livingston County Board, other municipal govern mental entities and several school boards.
Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, which was instrumental in creating the Caterpillar incentives package, highlighted his organization’s role in helping thin the rate of unemployment in the area.
“Given the substantial capital investment and hiring announcements by multiple employers, I am not surprised Livingston County’s unemployment rate has fallen,” Dontz said. “The GLCEDC has worked with Anthony Liftgates of Pontiac, Caterpillar of Pontiac, RKO Saw of Cullom and Selig Sealing of Forrest to implement hiring incentives and/or property tax abatements recognizing their job creation and building expansions.
“Collectively, these companies have announced over 190 new jobs and nearly 30,000 square feet of building expansion.”
In its release, the IDES added that, over the year, non-farm payroll employment was unchanged at 1 4,000. Manufacturing and financial activities had the largest increases in employment, while the trade, transportation and utilities, educational-health services and leisure-hospitality sectors had the largest declines from a year ago.