New figures from the Illinois Department of Employment Security show a sizable drop in unemployment figures in Evanston.

The figures for February, released today, show the jobless rate at 6.8% here — down from 7.6% in January. That’s the lowest level since pandemic-related job losses really kicked in in April 2020, but still more than double the pre-pandemic rate of a year ago.

The same general pattern is seen in jobless figures for the Chicago metro area and the entire state, but the Evanston jobless rate is now a full percentage point lower than the state’s figure.

The size of Evanston’s labor force grew by 157 people in February to a total of 36,343. Meanwhile the number of people actively looking for work declined by 280. That indicates that some of the reduction in the jobless figure was a result of people giving up on their search for work.

Skokie’s jobless rate in February was 7.3%, down from a revised 7/9% in January. Wilmette’s rate was 5.3% in February, down from 6.6% in January.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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