Southern Illinois Optimistic About Job Market


By Amy Fox
By Andy Shofstall

WSIL-- It's  a sign of encouragement.  Illinois' July jobless rate fell to 6.8 percent and employers created more than 11,000 private-sector jobs across the state

State data shows more than 3,000 job listings in our area in a wide variety of industries. Local hiring experts say as more positions open up, the job market in southern Illinois remains very competitive. 

Vacant buildings have become an all too common sight in southern Illinois. 

"It was very devastating. 2008 was a rough time for everyone," Marcey Poshard, Extra Help Director of Southern Illinois Operations.

During the recession, many businesses were forced to lay off workers or close their doors. But, things are slowly changing. 

Poshard said, "We had some tough times, so seeing that unemployment rate drop, that's very exciting."

National statistics show progress in Franklin County where the jobless rate dropped 3.5 percent in a four month period this spring. It's a similar story in Williamson County where unemployment dropped more than 2 percent. Jackson County saw a 1.5 percent decline.

"We can definitely see the economy is bouncing back," said Poshard.  "As far as the type of jobs available, it's just ranging all across the board."

It's influencing some businesses to take a chance and expand. Southern Illinois Healthcare has more than 100 jobs available right now. But, SIH gets thousands of applications every month.

"Some of the people who were working in the factories and lost jobs [have been] making a complete career shift and going back to school and going into nursing or respiratory, some of the other areas we have in healthcare," said Kristin King, SIH Employment Manager.

Aisin is also growing its workforce. Since January, the company has added 63 new positions.

"All of our support departments have actually grown, as well as our hourly manufacturing positions," said Renae Edwards, Aisin Human Resource Representative.

Local companies are cautiously optimistic and say for now, they're taking it one day at a time.

Several hiring managers say they hope to add more jobs in the coming months.  Many places would like to get back to pre-recession staffing levels.

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