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Rockford economy in transition

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Rockford economy in transition

A recent report on the Milken Institute Best-Performing
Cities Index generated positive headlines for Rockford earlier this month.

In its 2016 rankings, Milken ranked the Rockford area as the 125th best
performing area out of 200 in the study. Of course, Transform Rockford’s goal
is to make Rockford one of the top 25 communities to live in by 2025 so a
ranking of 125 shows how far we have to go. For comparison sake, the 25th
ranked community this year in the Milken rankings was the San Luis Obispo,
Arroyo Grande, California area.

In 2015 though, Rockford ranked 176th, which is why the report was
looked upon as a positive. Milken cited improved growth in short-term jobs as
well as in high-tech tech jobs as major factors in the improved ranking.

A look at the job stats shows an economy in transition. In the chart below, you
see statistics from the Illinois Department of Employment’s Current Employment
Statistics (CES) series.  It shows that although industries such as
manufacturing and retail have rebounded somewhat from the depths of the Great
Recession, we’re still a ways off from getting back to the employment levels
before the meltdown. It is the service industries such as health care,
logistics, hospitality and business services that have made gains.

 

Industry

June
2007

January
2010

November
2016

Pct. Ch.
2016-2007

Total nonfarm jobs

164,500

139,100

155,300

-5.6%

Construction, mining

8,800

4,200

4,600

-47.8%

Manufacturing

34,600

25,000

31,600

-8.7%

Wholesale trade

6,700

5,400

5,700

-14.9%

Retail trade

17,000

15,000

16,400

-3.5%

Trans., warehousing, utilities

7,500

7,000

7,800

4.0%

Information

2,400

1,800

1,300

-45.8%

Financial activities

6,800

6,300

5,500

-19.1%

Finance and insurance

5,500

5,000

4,000

-27.3%

Professional and business services

18,900

13,800

19,000

0.5%

Educational and health services

21,800

22,800

23,800

9.2%

Health care and social assistance

19,900

20,900

22,000

10.6%

Leisure and hospitality

13,200

11,700

14,000

6.1%

Other services

17,100

17,100

16,800

-1.8%

Federal government

1,100

1,100

900

-18.2%

State government

1,100

1,100

1,100

0.0%

Local government

6,200

5,300

4,700

-24.2%

Public education

8,700

9,600

10,100

16.1%

It may take years before the Rockford area regains all the jobs lost in the
recession for the simple fact we have fewer residents here than we did in 2007
and many of the ones who remained are aging. In 2007, according to U.S. Census
Bureau estimates, Boone and Winnebago counties were home to 351,215 people. In
2016, the Census Bureau estimates the Boone-Winnebago population to be 340,663.

If you do the math, 46.8 percent of the people in 2007 had jobs versus 45.6
percent in November 2016.
Much of that difference can be found in the Social Security recipient numbers.

Boone-Winnebago
Social Security recipients, 2007 vs. 2015

Year

Recipients

Total payments

December, 2007

6,657

$3,337,000

December, 2015

7,817

$4,688,000

There is kind of a “chicken or the egg” question when looking at these numbers.
Do we have fewer jobs because we have fewer people or do we have fewer people
because we have fewer jobs?


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