Chamber Members:

Since today is Thursday, you know that we’re going to be sharing a job report below. Today we have both the weekly national numbers as well as the state May report. Claims have oddly spiked and Illinois is right in the mix contributing to it. Additionally, following the announcement by the Governor, congress has passed Juneteenth as a national holiday. There is a report out about a major housing shortage and how quick can the governor and general assembly pick up the pieces and pass an energy bill?

From the good news department, the Illinois Department of Public Health says the number of Covid-19 cases in the state are continuing to drop, and the state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests remains under 1 percent. Going forward, IDPH will now offer detailed data only on Fridays.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Jobless Claims Spike
The number of people filing new unemployment claims spiked last week, the latest economic indicator that’s troubling economists. Data released by the Department of Labor Thursday showed that for the week ending June 12, unemployment claims hit 412,000, a jump of 37,000 from the previous week. That increase comes after several weeks of steadily declining claims.

Next week’s report will show whether the most recent data was an anomaly or if it may be a reversal of the previous trend. “Since President Biden took office, average jobless claims are down for the ninth week in a row and have been cut in half, and the economy has averaged 540,000 new jobs per month,” the White House said in a statement after last week’s jobless claims came out. “Americans are getting back to work and our economy is on the right track.”

California, Pennsylvania, and Illinois contributed to the majority of the unemployment claims increase. “The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 5 were in Illinois (+5,715), Ohio (+2,296), Delaware (+1,720), and Tennessee (+1,159), while the largest decreases were in Pennsylvania (-23,633), California (-19,120), Oklahoma (-3,788), Texas (-3,299), and New Jersey (-2,985).”

The unemployment and jobs numbers have shown the complexity of the economic data in recent months. Some indicators show growth, but there is a simultaneous rise in inflation and joblessness. The Bureau of Labor statistics in recent days reported a sharp rise in consumer prices and producer good prices, worrying economists about a rise in inflation.

“Final demand prices rose 0.6 percent in April and 1.0 percent in March … on an unadjusted basis, the final demand index advanced 6.6 percent for the 12 months ended in May, the largest increase since 12-month data were first calculated in November 2010,” BLS said. The economy’s job creation has fallen short of experts’ hopes in recent months as well.

How to address the economic woes in the aftermath of COVID-19 has been a key topic of debate between both political parties. Democrats argue unemployment benefits will help keep Americans afloat and that more federal spending will help spur growth. Republican governors blame additional federal unemployment benefits for the continued high unemployment numbers, pointing to widespread job availability and employers’ difficulty finding workers.

Statewide Unemployment Rate Unchanged, Payroll Jobs Down in May
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate remained at 7.1 percent, while nonfarm payrolls were down -7,900 in May, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The April monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report, up slightly from +300 to +1,600 jobs. The April preliminary unemployment rate was unchanged from the preliminary report, remaining at 7.1 percent.

The May payroll jobs estimate and unemployment rate reflects activity for the week including the 12th. The BLS has published FAQs for the May payroll jobs and the unemployment rate.

In May, the three industry sectors with the largest over-the-month gains in employment were: Leisure and Hospitality (+6,300), Manufacturing (+2,000) and Educational and Health Services (+1,900). The industry sectors that reported the largest monthly payroll declines were: Government (-10,000), Construction (-5,600) and Financial Activities (-1,300).

“With the move to Phase 5 last week, Illinois is positioned to fully reopen and restore industries impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Deputy Governor Dan Hynes.  “IDES will continue to support claimants while focusing on assisting employers and jobseekers to reconnect dislocated workers to the workforce.”

The state’s unemployment rate was +1.3 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May, which was 5.8 percent, down -0.3 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was down -8.3 percentage points from a year ago when it was at 15.4 percent.

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +390,600 jobs, with gains across most major industries. The industry groups with the largest jobs increases were: Leisure and Hospitality (+137,400), Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+97,000) and Professional and Business Services (+52,500).  The industry groups with jobs losses were: Financial Activities (-1,700) and Mining (-200). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +7.3 percent over-the-year as compared to the nation’s +8.9 percent over-the-year growth in May.

The number of unemployed workers fell slightly from the prior month, a -0.4 percent decrease to 436,800, and was down   -53.9 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was up +0.2 percent over-the-month and about unchanged (0.0 percent) over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

House Approves Juneteenth Holiday & Sends to President for Approval
Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in America, is finally on the precipice of becoming a federal holiday, as the House on Wednesday passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act by a vote of 415-14.

The legislation passed through the Senate with unanimous consent on Tuesday; it now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Juneteenth is a portmanteau of the date that it falls on, June 19. On that day in 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army issued General Order No. 3 from Galveston, Texas, informing the remaining enslaved people there that they were free.

The House vote operated under a closed rule that was ironed out by the House Rules Committee early Wednesday afternoon in an effort to stop any last-minute bad-faith efforts to stop the legislation from passing.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was put forth by former President Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, the Civil War was still in full swing, meaning that the declaration had no agency in states and areas that the Union Army did not control. And even though the war officially ended on April 9, 1865, it would take Union troops another two months to make their way through Texas, which at the time was the most remote and westward state. Granger and his troops arrived in the Port of Galveston on June 18, 1865, and a day later, he read the order emancipating all people in the state who were still enslaved.

The 13th Amendment, officially prohibiting slavery in the U.S., wouldn’t be ratified until December of that year. While just now being recognized as a holiday on a federal level, Juneteenth is celebrated by many cities across the country as well as almost every state. South Dakota is the only state that hasn’t officially recognized Juneteenth as a holiday.

Pritzker hopes Illinois General Assembly can approve a clean-energy bill within weeks
After negotiations to hammer out a clean-energy bill for Illinois stalled this week, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday he hopes to call the General Assembly back to Springfield within a month to approve legislation.

The legislation potentially would set closure dates as late as 24 years from now for coal-fired power plants in Springfield and southern Illinois, assist northern Illinois nuclear plants and promote alternative energy sources.

“We have come a long way in assisting all parties in getting to ‘yes,’ and I continue to work to bring comprehensive, clean, equitable and ethical energy reform to the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said. “That, and nothing less, is what the people of this state deserve.”

Officials from Springfield’s municipally owned City Water, Light and Power didn’t comment specifically on the proposed easing of the original 2035 closure dates for all Illinois coal-fired plants. But CWLP said in a statement, “We are pleased that the legislature adjourned without adopting measures that would interfere with the progress CWLP has already been making for a cleaner energy supply for the city of Springfield.”

Statements from the Democratic governor and CWLP came after the Illinois Senate adjourned its spring session Tuesday without taking a vote. The House was on track to complete its spring session Wednesday without taking up the issue, either.

The lack of consensus after more than a year of work by Pritzker, his staff and lawmakers, and after the legislature’s two-week break to work out final details of an energy bill, resulted in disappointment among Democrats and Republicans.

“We came to Springfield today in the hopes of passing a landmark, nation-leading climate bill,” said Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. “We came up a little short today, but we will get it done.”

Harmon said he believes differences between labor unions and environmental activists can be resolved. Harmon said the holdup in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, which represents a super-majority in the 59-member chamber, centered on two issues:

* How the legislation would deal with requiring “prevailing wage” on many wind and solar projects and make sure Black and Latino workers get their fair share of those jobs; and

* “Interim decarbonization targets” for natural gas-fired electric generation plants before they all would be required to close by 2045.

The disagreements involve “two critical constituencies” for Democrats — environmental activists and organized labor, Harmon said. “All of the stakeholders are preparing for decarbonization, with coal going offline in 2035 and gas going offline in 2045 unless there is some significant technological change that allows them to operate without polluting,” Harmon said.

“Those are important targets, and we stand willing to support those, but the predictability issue is one that’s very real,” he said. “We want to make sure that Illinoisans are working at good-paying jobs, both the folks who are in the industry today and the folks who are going to take those clean-energy jobs going forward, and that we just don’t create a situation where we end up shutting down Illinois plants and end up importing dirty energy from other states,” Harmon said.

He said the latest draft of the energy bill would have started requiring the closure of some gas-fired power plants “in the next few years. … There are significant investments and significant jobs associated with those plants. People could be out of a job on Monday if we passed that bill today.”

Both environmentalists and labor officials have “moved considerably toward the middle, and both sides are operating in good faith,” Harmon said. “Labor is being asked to support the closure of plants and the elimination of jobs,” he said. “That might be the toughest vote in Springfield. Tougher than voting to raise someone’s taxes is voting to say, ‘Next month or next year you don’t have a job.’ These are very real concerns for very real people.”

An aide to Pritzker said Tuesday the governor is proposing a new provision in the legislation that would give coal-fired plants at CWLP and southern Illinois’ Washington County the ability to remain open until 2045 if they remove most of the carbon dioxide from their emissions by the end of 2034.

Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell said in a statement that a previous version of the bill would have forced closure of all Illinois coal-fired plants by 2035. The 2035 date was vigorously opposed by CWLP and by the municipally owned Prairie State Energy Campus.

CWLP has debt for a $515 million coal-fired unit built in 2009 that won’t be paid off until after 2040, and some bonds sold to finance Prairie State’s $5 billion construction from 2007-12 will require debt payments beyond 2041 in some cases.

Mitchell said Pritzker was attempting to satisfy the concerns of the constituents of more than 50 Democratic and Republican state lawmakers who sent him a letter over the past weekend. The letter said CWLP and Prairie State, both not-for-profit entities, combined employ more than 1,100 workers and support an additional 1,000 skilled union trades workers. Pritzker’s proposed compromise would allow CWLP and Prairie Energy to keep operating their coal-fired units until 2045 if they adopted technologies that remove 90% of carbon emissions by late 2034.

“We’ve come a long way,” Mitchell said. “We have moved substantially. The other side has not moved much. “Everything we were told was necessary for an agreement — including a carbon-capture exemption that gives both the governor and environmentalists heartburn — is now present. And at some point, a progressive climate bill is no longer a climate bill, and going further than this is the tipping point.”

Harmon said it’s unknown whether carbon-capture technology will progress in the next 14 years to allow for a 90% reduction in pollutants. But Pritzker sounded more confident.

“There’s the opportunity for there to be significant carbon capture,” the governor said. “And if that goal is met — and the industry has said it could meet that goal — that will then allow beyond 2035 the operation of those coal plants for another 10 years, so we’re talking about 24 years from now.”

Through proposed rate increases in the northern Illinois areas served by Commonwealth Edison, Mitchell said the bill being crafted would provide $694 million in financial support for the Byron, Dresden, Braidwood and LaSalle nuclear power plants and preserve 2,000 direct jobs at the plants and thousands of indirect jobs.

The bill also would “create thousands of good jobs for union workers by standing up a transparent and reasonable ratemaking system for ComEd and Ameren,” Mitchell said.

Pritzker said his administration’s goal “is to create meaningful climate-change policy that makes Illinois a leader in protecting our people, the environment and the clean-energy industry that we can grow. I will not sign a bill that does not match the gravity of this moment.” He added, “We can decarbonize while creating and maintaining good-paying union jobs.”

The bill as proposed would double the state’s investment in renewable energy and provide indexed renewable energy credits, costing residential ratepayers about $1.22 per month. The legislation would expand weatherization efforts for low-income homeowners, costing residential ratepayers about 86 cents per month.

U.S. Housing Market Needs 5.5 Million More Units
Construction of new housing in the past 20 years fell 5.5 million units short of long-term historical levels, according to a new National Association of Realtors report, which is calling for a “once-in-a-generation” policy response. The industry lobbying group said it hopes the report, which was released Wednesday, persuades lawmakers to include housing investments in any infrastructure package.

U.S. builders added 1.225 million new housing units, on average, each year from 2001 to 2020, according to the report, which was prepared for NAR by Rosen Consulting Group LLC. That figure is down from an annual average of 1.5 million new units from 1968 to 2000.

The 5.5 million-unit deficit includes about two million single-family homes, 1.1 million units in buildings with two to four units and 2.4 million units in buildings of at least five units, the report says. “The scale of the problem is so large,” said David Bank, senior vice president of Rosen Consulting Group and one of the report’s authors. “We need affordable [housing], we need market-rate, we need single-family, we need multifamily.”

The report also says that from 2010 to 2020, new-home construction fell 6.8 million units short of what was needed to meet household-formation growth and replace units that were aging or destroyed by natural disasters. Limited supply has been a recent driver of rising housing prices for renters and home buyers, alongside robust demand. The median existing-home price rose 19% from a year earlier to $341,600 in April, a record high, according to NAR.

The supply shortage became especially acute in the past year. Builders slowed construction in some regions last spring and delayed land purchases because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, low mortgage-interest rates and an increase in remote work led to a surge in demand for single-family housing. And many homeowners delayed or canceled plans to list their homes for sale.

Housing economists differ in their estimates of the supply-demand balance. In a study earlier this year, mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac estimated that the national deficit of single-family homes stood at 3.8 million units at the end of 2020.

Industry consultant John Burns said by his estimate, the U.S. has a deficit of fewer than a million homes. “Our adult population isn’t growing as fast as it used to,” said Mr. Burns, chief executive of John Burns Real Estate Consulting LLC. Compared with decades before 2000, “we don’t need to build as much,” he said.

New-home construction surged in the early 2000s amid a housing boom. Then building activity slumped during the 2007-09 recession and stayed low for years as builders went out of business and workers left the industry. Builders ramped up the pace in 2020 in response to robust demand. Housing starts, a measure of home-building activity, rose last year to 1.38 million units, the highest rate since 2006. But shortages of labor, ready-to-build land and materials have limited the pace of construction growth, builders say.

More than 90% of home builders surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders in May reported shortages of appliances and framing lumber. To shrink the supply deficit, builders would need to exceed the long-term historical average pace of 1.5 million units a year, according to the NAR report. At 2.1 million units a year, near the level reached in 2005, it would take a decade to close a gap of 5.5 million units, the report says.

NAR is calling for a suite of policy responses to increase housing supply, including expanding the tax credit program for low-income rental housing, encouraging renovation of distressed properties and offering incentives to cities and states to reduce regulatory limits on housing density. The association also supports converting commercial buildings for residential use.

Some of these ideas were included in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal. Expanding new-home construction to more than two million units a year for 10 years would create 2.8 million new jobs and generate more than $400 billion in economic activity, according to the NAR report.

Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information

Connect with the Workforce Center
The Workforce Center hosts various workshops, hiring events, and activities throughout the month. Be sure to connect with the Workforce Center and share their flyers and event announcements through your social media platforms.

Visit the Workforce Center of Will County’s web page for more information about the programs, services, and activities available for Will County businesses and residents.

Small Business Tax Credit Programs
Did you know that the American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses?
Learn more

Small Disadvantaged Business Contracting Goal News
On June 1, 2021, the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new steps to help narrow the racial wealth gap and reinvest in communities that have been left behind by failed policies. Specifically, the Administration is expanding access to two key wealth-creators – small business ownership and homeownership – in communities of color and disadvantaged communities.

  • Use the federal government’s purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent, translating to an additional $100 billion over five years, and helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Take action to address racial discrimination in the housing market, including by launching a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals, and conducting rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination.

Learn more

Federal Contracting Webinar Series
Do you need help with federal contracting? The ChallengeHER webinar series offers education and training on the federal contracting system. Below is a list of upcoming webinars.

  • Government Contract Reporting – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You!
    June 24 | 2:00 p.m. ET
  • Tips for GSA Schedule Compliance and Success
    July 22 | 2:00 p.m. ET

Finally, Congresswoman Marie Newman and her office are excited to be hosting their first-ever summer job festival to connect residents of Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District with Chicagoland businesses, organizations and government entities that are looking to hire local employees. We know the great majority of you are not in this district, but it is an opportunity for both employers and potential job seekers you may know.
IL 03 Summer Job Festival Information

If you are interested, please  REGISTER HERE . The Congresswoman is scheduled to make informal opening remarks between 11:15a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

  • When and where?
    • Saturday, June 19th 11am-4pm
    • Kennedy High School Parking Lot
    • Address:  6325 W 56th, Chicago
  • Parking lot accessibility:
    • 9:00 A.M – 5:00 P.M.  (For set-up and cleaning up purposes)
    • Please arrive no later than 10:00 A.M. for set up.
  • Parking instructions:
    • Please park on the side of the Kennedy High School parking lot nearest to the building.
    • The side adjacent to the park/trees will be allocated for the tables as it has more shade.
  • Businesses and organizations participating in this summer’s job festival include, but are not limited to:
  • Angelo’s Stuffed Pizza
    • Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
    • Chicago Police Department (CPD)
    • Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
    • Construction Works
    • Cultural Studio
    • Edward Jones
    • Hire 360
    • Home Run Inn
    • Illinois Teamsters Joint Council No. 25
    • Midway Hotel Center
      • Marriott Midway
      • Courtyard Midway
      • Fairfield Midway
      • Hilton Garden Inn.
      • Holiday Inn Express
      • Sleep Inn and TGI Fridays
    • Metra
    • Poder
    • Prospect Air Services
    • Richard J. Daley College
    • Southwest Collective
    • Divvy
    • Sprinkler Fitters
    • UPS
  • If you are hosting a table, please bring the following:
    • A folding table
    • If available, a tent to protect from the sun.
    • Chair(s)
    • Business cards
    • Promotional material
    • Job applications
  • Job Seekers:
    • Bring your resumes.
    • Best smiles and beaming personalities!
  • Day of Event Points of Contacts:
    • Shadin Maali/Ben Hardin

If you know of additional businesses that may be interested in participating, please request that they REGISTER HERE.

Stay well,

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors

Mike Paone
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct