DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — While jobless rates fell in most of Illinois' metropolitan areas in December, they were driven higher for a second straight month in the central Illinois town of Decatur because of temporary layoffs at manufacturers like Caterpillar.
Statewide, unemployment rates fell in nine of Illinois' 12 metro areas compared with December 2011, according to figures released Friday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Decatur was one of three places where joblessness grew, rising 1.7 percentage points to hit 11.8 percent.
Much of that increase resulted from temporary layoffs in the manufacturing sector, labor market analyst Ron Payne told the (Decatur) Herald & Review.
Caterpillar Inc. announced in October that it would shut down some sections of its Decatur plant for a week in November and for all of December. The maker of heavy construction equipment cited global economic conditions and decreased customer demand. The temporary layoffs affected shop floor workers, support staff and management.
Payne said he was optimistic that unemployment would soon begin to turn around.
'I'm hopeful that (the temporary layoffs) won't last much longer and that people will be getting back to work,' he said.
The other two metro areas where jobless figures rose were Danville, where it reached 10.4 percent, and Peoria, where the number increased to 8.3 percent.
Bloomington-Normal had the lowest unemployment rate, at 6.3 percent, compared with 6.9 percent a year earlier.