Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

February 18, 2013

Best Ill. job prospects in manufacturing, medical

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CHAMPAIGN (AP) — Illinois' widening medical industry and its old-standby, manufacturing, may be the best places to look for a job this year, although some of the positions will require increasing levels of education and training and many won't pay what they might have just a few years ago, experts said.

Overall, 17 percent of Illinois employers plan to add staff during the first quarter of this year, up 3 percent from a year earlier, according to a survey from the staffing firm ManPower Group. About 71 percent plan to keep staffing levels the same.

"Job creation has been relatively strong in the last two years," said John Challenger, CEO of the Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Even so, Illinois is like the rest of the nation: still staggering back from the recession 2007-09. Statewide unemployment hasn't dropped below 8 percent since 2008.

The jobless rate in Illinois fell from 9.3 percent in December 2011 to 8.7 percent in December 2012, the most recent month for which data is available from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. But the state's jobless rate in November 2007, the month before the recession started, was 5 percent.

The hole the country's been trying to climb out of was so deep that, "bringing it back to normal has been a slow, year-by-year digging-out process," Challenger said.

Experts say Illinois' biggest job-creator in 2013 could be the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is expected to ratchet up the demand for a wide range of jobs.

Hospitals may need to add staff in positions that require everything form a four-year degree plus experience to entry-level jobs that require little education.

St. John's Hospital in Springfield has been hiring nurse navigators — experienced registered nurses who help patients literally navigate their way through treatment, answering questions before and after, said Pat Schulz, head of the hospital's human resources department. The pay is $22 to $30 an hour.

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