The hospital hires about 140 RNs a year for a variety of positions around the hospital, many of the straight out of school, she said. But the new ones don't head straight to the hospital floor on their own, instead spending three to four months in additional training as nurse residents.
But the hospital, like others, anticipates hiring lower-wage, lower skill positions, too. "If our beds are full, then we need more housekeepers, we need more food service," Schulz said.
Manufacturing job growth also should continue this year, job-market watchers say.
Even with decades of Rust Belt exodus, companies that make things in Illinois — auto parts, heavy machinery, medical devices, hardware and more — have been a relatively steady job provider in an uneven recovery.
Over the past year, Illinois' manufacturing job base grew 2.4 percent, from 579,900 jobs in December 2011 to 594,100 last month. One in every 9.7 non-farming jobs in Illinois is in manufacturing.
"Manufacturing in Illinois is going to always be relatively strong," said Tom Gimbel, CEO of the Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle Network. "You've got Caterpillar and Deere. ... That's Midwestern products and Midwestern values. It mirrors the types of people that are out there. You've got people that want to have a (steady) job for 30 years."
One key area that helped create new manufacturing jobs last year was auto parts, whose makers enjoyed a healthy 2012 with the resurgence of auto sales due to factors such as the improvements in the economy to pent-up demand — many would-be buyers held off through the recession. Chrysler, for instance, increased production at its plant in Belvidere and said it needed 1,800 new workers to do so.
That growth started to slow late last year as overseas auto sales slowed, National Association of Manufacturers chief economist Chad Moutray said.