Bishop GE Livingston on Monday held a press conference to raise concerns over the unemployment numbers, “When we had such a horrific unemployment rate of 13% and now we are at 8% it seems like success, but it’s not success if we are still at the bottom. Everyone’s seen their employment numbers increase over the last year because we were all so bad in the area of jobs.”
Decatur’s 8.1% unemployment rate that was released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security last week ranked highest in the state, well above the average of 6.9%.
“What we really have to do is not be happy with going from 13% to 8%, we should be happy with going from the bottom to the top; we have to go from good to great.”
Livingston said if elected he would like minorities to be more well represented during economic development talks, “We live in a city that is 26% minority, and it is my belief that not everyone has an equal say. If elected I would make sure to include more minorities, and that includes women and young people, in these talks to try and get their unique perspectives.”
During a mayoral forum last month, incumbent Mayor Mike McElroy touted the decline in unemployment to the efforts of the city council and the emergence of the Midwest Inland Port.
Livingston said he didn’t think the efforts the Council has made in recent months has been enough, “The current city leadership has had a lot of very important things to focus on, including the dredging of the lake and some of our infrastructure issues; however if we don’t fix our down-trending population… then we will still fail miserably.”
Decatur’s unemployment rate of 8.1% was .3% higher than Danville and Rockford’s. Bloomington had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.4%, Champaign-Urbana followed at 5.8%, and Springfield saw its unemployment numbers dip down to 6%.
Despite the decrease in unemployment, Decatur saw a net loss of roughly 600 jobs between January 2014 and January 2015. Total job numbers were down from 50,000 to 49,600.