WBEZ | 2011 economy http://www.wbez.org/tags/2011-economy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Was 2011 a good, bad or ugly year for you? http://www.wbez.org/story/was-2011-good-bad-or-ugly-year-you-94078 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-15/AP090317024124.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some experts say things have begun to look up for Illinois' businesses and housing market. But it's still an uneven recovery, and many feel left behind.</p><p><a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears</em></a> doesn't want to leave it to the experts to assess how Illinois' economy has fared in 2011. We want to hear real stories from real people. Click <a href="https://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/form/changing-gears/c9dacecb617f/was-2011-a-good-bad-or-ugly-year-for-you" target="_blank">here</a> to share yours.</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 22:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/was-2011-good-bad-or-ugly-year-you-94078 Recession worsens shortage of affordable rental housing http://www.wbez.org/story/recession-worsens-shortage-affordable-rental-housing-94045 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-14/3168468197_0c7c1d1344_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated on 11/15/11 at 11:20 a.m.</em></p><p><a href="https://ihs.depaul.edu/reports/CookCountyHousing2011.pdf">A new study</a> shows that Cook County’s persistent shortage of affordable rental housing has gotten even worse in recent years.</p><p>For years, the constraint on affordable housing came from the overheated real estate market. Developers converted apartments to condos, pushing out tenants. But then the recession hit, and people needed to downsize.</p><p>Geoff Smith is executive director of<a href="https://ihs.depaul.edu/ihs/?q=node/3"> DePaul University’s Institute for Housing Studies,</a> which published the report.</p><p>"More people essentially were making less money and needed to access affordable housing," Smith said.</p><p>He says the shortage of affordable rental housing now stands at 180,000 units in Cook County.</p><p>One problem, Smith says, is that banks are more cautious about making loans to people buying smaller apartment buildings – anything with fewer than 100 units.</p><p>"Those make up much of the affordable housing stock in Chicago and Cook County, but they tend to be the types of buildings that are more challenging to finance," Smith said.</p><p>According to the report, more than 97,000 units in multifamily buildings in Cook County have been part of a foreclosure auction.</p><p>The shortage of affordable rental properties is having the greatest impact on less affluent renters, many of whom are forced to pay more than recommended 30 percent of their monthly income for rent.&nbsp;</p><p>According to the study, households needed to make approximately $40,000 per year to afford the county’s median priced two-bedroom apartment, which was $1000 per month in 2010.&nbsp;</p><p>While rents have decreased slightly in Chicago and Cook County since 2008, they are still up overall during the last half of the previous decade.</p><p>The institute predicts the shortage will increase to 233,000 affordable rental units by the end of this decade.</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 06:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/recession-worsens-shortage-affordable-rental-housing-94045 Consumer spending jumps in July http://www.wbez.org/story/consumer-spending-jumps-july-91167 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-29/Neon Shop Sign_Getty_Justin Sullivan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Consumers rebounded in July to boost spending by the most in five months. The increase is likely to ease fears that the U.S. economy is on the verge of another recession.</p><p>The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in July. That followed the first decline in spending in 20 months.</p><p>Personal incomes increased 0.3 percent last month. That's slightly higher than the modest 0.2 percent in June, the weakest growth in seven months.</p><p>The first look at spending in the second half of the year gave Wall Street an early lift. Stock futures rose after its release. It added to positive reports that Hurricane Irene didn't do as much damage as feared.</p><p>Consumer spending is important because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.</p><p>Strong spending in July is the latest sign that the economy rebounded this summer after anemic growth in the first half of the year. The government reported Friday that the economy expanded at an annual rate of just 1 percent in the April-June period, slower than a previous estimate. That lowered the annual rate for the first six months of the year to just 0.7 percent, the weakest growth in the two years since the recession official ended.</p><p>Nine of the past 11 recession since the end of World War II have been preceded by a period of growth of 1 percent or less.</p><p>July is off to a good start. The economy added 117,000 net jobs in July, twice the number added in each of the previous two months. Spending on retail goods rose faster last month than in any month since March. U.S. automakers rebounded last month to boost factory production by the most since the Japan crisis.</p><p>Consumer spending rose at a faster pace than income in July. The personal savings rate dropped to a four-month low of 5 percent, down from 5.5 percent in June.</p><p>The increase in spending was led by a 1.9 percent jump in purchases of durable goods, products such as autos and appliances that are expected to last at least three years. Spending on non-durable goods rose 0.7 percent. However, the purchase of services, the biggest spending category, fell 0.7 percent. Services include everything from haircuts to airline tickets.</p><p>Economists expect slightly better growth in the second half of the year of roughly 1.5 percent to 2 percent. But that wouldn't be enough to make a noticeable dent in the unemployment rate, which was 9.1 percent in July.</p><p>In a speech Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke proposed no new steps to boost the economy. But he did say the Fed would expand its September meeting to two days to allow a fuller discussion.</p><p>Investors hope the Fed will announce another round of Treasury purchases after that meeting. But economists said interest rates are already so low that there is little more the Fed can do to boost the economy.</p></p> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/consumer-spending-jumps-july-91167 Consumer spending slows in May, as rising prices pinch pocketbooks http://www.wbez.org/story/consumer-spending-slows-may-rising-prices-pinch-pocketbooks-88384 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-27/Neon Shop Sign_Getty_Justin Sullivan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. consumer spending was flat in May, breaking a string of 10 straight months of gains, as households struggled with rising prices and automakers failed to deliver the models Americans wanted.</p><p>When adjusted for inflation, spending slipped 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday, falling for a second straight month.</p><p>The report, which showed underlying inflation quickening, suggested that consumer spending would offer little support to the economy in the second quarter. In the first three months of the year, it advanced at a modest 2.2 percent annual rate.</p><p>Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, rose 0.3 percent in April and economists had expected a gain of 0.1 percent last month.</p><p>"We will be trimming the consumption number for the second quarter and GDP for the second quarter. That's worth a couple of tenths of a point,'' said <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fpershash-1%2F7c795fb5-805a-38b0-b750-23cbc2313b0c&amp;display=Stephen%20Stanley">Stephen Stanley</a>, chief economist at Pierpont Securities in <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fcity%2Fralg-geo1%2F70b20c0f-4342-e32d-8393-8b14aaffd4cd&amp;display=Stamford">Stamford</a>, <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fprovinceorstate%2Fralg-geo1%2F0876e379-8821-c934-0ec1-6ddec40bfef2&amp;display=Connecticut">Connecticut</a>.</p><p>While the report fits in with other data illustrating the loss of momentum in the economy, falling gasoline prices should lift spending and therefore growth in the third quarter.</p><p>Gasoline prices have dropped significantly from their peak of $4.02 a gallon in early May.</p><p>"We doubt the economy's engines are getting ready to go into reverse here,'' said <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fpershash-1%2F16f320c3-a206-373b-864d-254127803c1d&amp;display=Chris%20Rupkey">Chris Rupkey</a>, chief financial economist at the <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fcompany%2Fralg-oa%2F4295878360&amp;display=Bank%20of%20Tokyo-Mitsubishi">Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi</a> UFJ in <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fcity%2Fralg-geo1%2Fb3719a18-c511-51a8-b3f9-f8480b3b6e48&amp;display=New%20York">New York</a>.</p><p>"We view this setback for the economy as temporary, now that energy prices that got us into this mess seem to be reversing.''</p><p>Investors on Wall Street shrugged off the data, lifting U.S. stocks. Prices for U.S. Treasury debt were marginally lower and dollar slipped against a basket of currencies.</p><p><strong>Weak Autos Dampen Spending</strong></p><p>Consumer spending last month was held back by a sharp drop in motor vehicle purchases as disruptions to auto production due to a shortage of parts in the aftermath of <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fcountry%2Fralg-geo1%2F578ed5a4-eecf-5a15-803a-bdc49f6152d6&amp;display=Japan">Japan</a>'s March earthquake and tsunami left some models out of stock.</p><p>Spending on durable goods fell 1.5 percent after being flat in April. Motor vehicle sales in May set their lowest rate since September.</p><p>But there are signs disruptions to auto production are easing. The <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2FgenericHasher-1%2Ff0094c6b-1353-350e-b884-792656720042&amp;display=Chicago%20Federal%20Reserve">Chicago Federal Reserve</a>'s <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2FgenericHasher-1%2Fbefbebd9-5fe7-3f04-8045-174d03052016&amp;display=Midwest">Midwest</a> manufacturing index rose to 84.0 in May from 83.6 in April, partly reflecting a bounce back in autos.</p><p>While gasoline prices are retreating, underlying inflation pressures continue to percolate.</p><p>The core personal consumption expenditures price (<a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2FgenericHasher-1%2F2b313a30-bb15-3f71-814a-5c759eba3963&amp;display=PCE">PCE</a>) index -- excluding food and energy -- increased 0.3 percent, the largest increase since October 2009, after rising 0.2 percent the prior month.</p><p>The core index, which is closely watched by Federal Reserve officials, increased 1.2 percent in the 12 months through May, the biggest increase since August. The index rose 1.1 percent year-on-year in April and the Fed would like to see it close to 2 percent.</p><p>The overall <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2FgenericHasher-1%2F2b313a30-bb15-3f71-814a-5c759eba3963&amp;display=PCE">PCE</a> index rose 0.2 percent after rising 0.3 percent in April. Compared to May last year, the index was up 2.5 percent, the largest rise since January 2010, after increasing 2.2 percent in April.</p><p><a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fcompany%2Fralg-tr1r%2F244b6d3e-03ae-3ba3-97e7-13f68df48bdf&amp;display=Incomes">Incomes</a> in May rose 0.3 percent for a second month, and disposable <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fcompany%2Fralg-tr1r%2F244b6d3e-03ae-3ba3-97e7-13f68df48bdf&amp;display=incomes">incomes</a> adjusted for inflation edged up 0.1 percent. With spending weak, savings rose to an annual rate of $591.1 billion from $568.0 billion in April.</p><p>(Additional reporting by Richard Leong in <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fcity%2Fralg-geo1%2Fb3719a18-c511-51a8-b3f9-f8480b3b6e48&amp;display=New%20York">New York</a>; Editing by Andrea Ricci)</p></p> Mon, 27 Jun 2011 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/consumer-spending-slows-may-rising-prices-pinch-pocketbooks-88384 Why so glum? Economic optimism dims http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-26/why-so-glum-economic-optimism-dims-88357 <p><p>The latest surveys show that both business owners and consumers have been losing confidence in the U.S. economy. That pessimism is just the latest blow to hopes for a speedy recovery.</p><p>Last week, even Federal Reserve officials said they have grown more pessimistic about the economic outlook this year. The policy makers cut their forecast for 2011 to a growth rate of just 2.7 to 2.9 percent — down from their April estimate of 3.1 to 3.3 percent.</p><p>Economists say growing pessimism and a lack of confidence tends to depress spending. Chris Christopher, an economist with the forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, says the large cash reserves corporations are holding are evidence that our budding optimism is fading.</p><p>U.S. corporations have about $1.65 trillion in cash available to them, he noted. But managers are so wary about the near-term outlook that they are not spending that cash on hiring workers or expanding operations.</p><p>One major source of uncertainty for businesses is Congress. Even after months of talks, lawmakers have not been able to agree on how to cut spending and whether to raise the federal debt ceiling. If they can't reach a deal soon, global investors may begin to fear a U.S. Treasury default, and those concerns could in turn trigger a financial crisis.</p><p>Europe also is facing a huge debt crisis. In the Middle East and Northern Africa, rioting and political instability have raised concerns about the reliability of oil supplies coming from the region.</p><p>Other concerns involve a spring slump in manufacturing activity and the ongoing problems in real estate. For example, last week, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed existing home sales fell again in May, down 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million units, the lowest rate in six months. Even worse, the median price was down 4.6 percent from a year earlier.</p><p>Consumers, whose spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of all U.S. economic activity, also lost confidence this spring as gasoline prices rose to nearly $4 a gallon in early May and unemployment ticked back up last month. The unemployment rate had gotten down to 8.8 percent in March, but was back up to 9.1 percent by May.</p><p>Confidence has been hurt by "disappointing growth and job creation, weakness in manufacturing and real estate, and ... renewed turmoil in the Euro zone and its impact on financial markets," Raymond Torto, chief economist at CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., said in a statement on falling confidence data.</p><p>On Tuesday, the Conference Board, a business organization, will release its closely watched Consumer Confidence Index. In surveys, most economists are predicting that index will not show a significant increase in confidence as Americans head into the summer. IHS Global Insight concludes in its own forecast that "the consumer mood has become more pessimistic due to poor payroll numbers, a further decline in home prices, increasing non-energy prices, and an unsettling stock market. Consumer confidence is at depressed levels and consumer spending is looking very weak." <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p> Sun, 26 Jun 2011 05:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-26/why-so-glum-economic-optimism-dims-88357 Food bank shortages lead to innovation http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-25/food-bank-shortages-lead-innovation-88347 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-25/walmart-sq_sq.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Food banks around the country are trying to keep their shelves stocked as more people in the U.S. struggle to get enough to eat. Increasingly, that means finding new ways to salvage food that would otherwise go to waste.</p><p>One innovation is being tested at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee. In a back room at the food bank's warehouse in Gray, Tenn., dented and crushed cans containing everything from green beans to beets are piled high on a counter.</p><p>In the past, these cans all would have been thrown out, because no one knew whether bacteria had slipped through a crack, spoiling the contents.</p><p>But Scott Kinney, who's in charge of finding food supplies for the food bank, says that might be about to change.</p><p>He puts several damaged cans into a box-shaped machine with a clear lid. It's a vacuum packaging machine — the kind usually used to seal food in plastic.</p><p>"Right now it's setting up the vacuum," he says, as the machine motor starts to hum. "You can watch; the cans will move a little bit as the vacuum gets to its highest pressure point."</p><p>The cans vibrate, then puff up like little balloons as the machine sucks out all the air in the chamber. They return to normal when the machine stops.</p><p>Kinney takes out one of the cans, running his hand along the outside. It's dry, which is a good sign. He says if there had been a hole, the vacuum would have sucked out some of the food.</p><p>Kinney says this system is still part of a pilot program, but at this food bank alone, it could mean tons of additional food for needy people. Out of 300 cans run through the machine the day before, only one had to be thrown away because it showed signs of a leak.</p><p>"The good news is, it was cat food," Kinney says.</p><p>Rhonda Chafin, the food bank's executive director, says Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee distributes about 8 million pounds of food a year, but it needs more because demand continues to grow.</p><p>She already gets lots of donations from local supermarkets and retailers, but she has her eyes on other potential donors.</p><p>"We still have hospitals, hotels, caterers, restaurants that could give prepared food that has not been utilized, that's still in the kitchen, that was left over," Chafin says.</p><p>The challenge is convincing potential donors that it's a good thing to do, and then finding a way to store and transport the food safely.</p><p>Jonathan Bloom, author of a book called <em>American Wasteland,</em> says Americans squander about 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. — or 150 billion pounds a year. He says that's far more than what's needed to feed the hungry.</p><p>"All throughout the food chain, there's a winnowing process, where anything that doesn't look quite right or isn't the right size gets cast aside," Bloom says. "And this squandering of perfectly edible food is happening from farm to fork. The main culprit here is wanting our food to look perfect."</p><p>He says lots of retailers prefer to throw damaged or bruised food away, rather than donating it, for fear of being sued if something goes wrong — even though there are laws protecting donors against such suits.</p><p>Farms are another promising source of more food donations, says Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks.</p><p>"We know that today, there is 6 billion pounds of produce that is grown, but never distributed," she says. Much of it is plowed under when market demand falls short. Now, Feeding America is talking with farm groups about how to get a billion pounds of that food a year to the poor.</p><p>"The good news is it's healthy food, which clients need," Escarra says. "The challenging thing is a billion pounds is a lot of food and it is highly perishable."</p><p>So, along with buying machines to check out damaged cans, food banks are likely to be in the market soon for more refrigerated trucks and mobile pantries, so they can get all this produce quickly and safely to those who need it. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p> Sat, 25 Jun 2011 06:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-25/food-bank-shortages-lead-innovation-88347 Index of Leading Economic Indicators inches up in May http://www.wbez.org/story/index-leading-economic-indicators-inches-may-relieving-fears-recession-87994 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/Gas Price Sign_Getty_David Paul Morris.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Conference Board says its index of leading economic indicators rebounded in May, rising 0.8 percent. May's reading suggests the pace of growth is similar to that of the stronger readings from earlier this year and late 2010, when the economic outlook was brighter.</p><p>The Index suggests that the economy will grow modestly during the next few months, recovering from a late-spring slump. April's index had dropped a revised 0.4 percent - the first decline since June 2010 as economic growth slowed.&nbsp; A string of declines would indicate that a recession was coming.</p><p>Still, Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein cautions that economic growth will be "choppy" through summer and fall because of the weak housing market and high prices for food and gas.</p></p> Fri, 17 Jun 2011 14:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/index-leading-economic-indicators-inches-may-relieving-fears-recession-87994 Unemployment rate rises as job creation slows http://www.wbez.org/story/unemployment-rate-rises-job-creation-slows-87372 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-03/Job applicant_Getty_Justin Sullivan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The nation's unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent in May, as hiring slowed to the lowest level in eight months, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.&nbsp;</p><p>The Labor Department reported that employers hired only 54,000 new workers in May, down sharply from the previous three months, when the economy added an average of 220,000 new jobs.</p><p>The new data offered startling evidence that the U.S. economy is slowing, hampered by high gas prices and natural disasters in Japan that have hurt U.S. manufacturers.&nbsp;</p><p>"Every time we've had a strong quarter, it's been followed by a week one," FTN Financial Chief Economist Chris Low told PRI's Marketplace Morning Report on WBEZ Friday.</p><p>In May, private companies hired only 83,000 new workers - the fewest in nearly a year.&nbsp; Local governments cut 28,000 jobs last month, the most since November. That marks the 22 straight month in which municipalities have shed jobs. &nbsp;</p><p>More people entered the work force last month, which pushed the unemployment rate up from 9.0 percent in April.</p><p>Despite the rise in unemployment and the drop in job creation, Low noted that while the May numbers are the worst in eight months, but the April numbers were the best in six years.&nbsp;</p><p>"It's important to view the two months together," he said.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported last week that unemployment rates fell in each of Illinois' 12 metro areas during the month of April.&nbsp; That marks the eight consecutive month in which unemployment rates have declined.&nbsp;</p><p>Earlier this month the department said statewide unemployment fell in April from 8.8 percent to 8.7 while the national rate rose .2 percent to 9 percent.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 13:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/unemployment-rate-rises-job-creation-slows-87372 Consumer prices post biggest increase since June '09 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-economy/consumer-prices-post-biggest-increase-june-09-85230 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-15/103415333.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Consumers paid more for food, gas and rent last month, but outside those categories inflation remained tame. The Labor Department says the Consumer Price Index rose five-tenths of a percent in March. That matched February's increase, the largest since the recession ended in June 2009.</p><p>In the past 12 months, the index has increased two-point-seven percent, the biggest rise since December 2009.&nbsp;</p><p>Outside volatile food and gas, the so-called core index rose one-tenth of a percent. Economists monitor core prices to get a sense of broader inflation trends.</p><p>In the past 12 months, core prices rose one-point-two percent, up from the six-tenths of percent pace recorded last October. Still, the March increase is well below the 10-year average of one-point-nine percent.</p><p><strong>As gas prices surge, fuel purchases ease</strong></p><p>The average price of gasoline is now above $4 per gallon in five states, including Illinois, and it could rise to that level in New York and Washington, D.C., this weekend. The $4 mark is a tough reminder for American drivers. The last time they saw prices that high was in the summer of 2008, just before the economy went into a tailspin.</p><p>Retail surveys show that motorists are already starting to buy less fuel, yet the government still expects pump prices to keep climbing this summer.&nbsp; The national average has increased for 24 straight days, hitting $3.82 per gallon on Friday. It's above $4 in Connecticut, Illinois, California, Hawaii and Alaska.</p><p><strong>Factory production on the rise</strong></p><p>Meanwhile, in other economic news released Friday, U.S. factories produced more consumer goods, business equipment and raw materials in March, boosting manufacturing activity for the ninth straight month.</p><p>The Federal Reserve says output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities increased eight-tenths of a percent last month after edging up one-tenth of percent in February. The previous month's results were dragged down by a weather-related drop in utility production.</p><p>Factory production, the largest single segment of industrial production, increased seven-tenths of a percent last month. Manufacturing has been a key driver of economic growth since the recession ended. That continued last month, even with supply chain disruptions stemming from the crisis in Japan.</p><p>Overall industrial production has risen about 11 percent since its recession-low in June 2009. It is still eight percent below its pre-recession peak, reached in September 2007.</p></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2011 13:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-economy/consumer-prices-post-biggest-increase-june-09-85230 Hiring in Illinois outpaces national average http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-economy/hiring-illinois-outpaces-national-average-84258 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/Job applicants_Getty_Justin Sullivan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The latest government data suggest some states are recovering much faster than others from the recession, including a few that were hit the hardest.&nbsp;</p><p>U.S. companies have added jobs for 12 straight months, but the gains have been uneven.</p><p>The U.S. Labor Department says the unemployment rate dropped in 27 states in February, including Illinois. It rose in seven states and stayed the same in 16.&nbsp; Last week, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced the state's jobless rate had fallen to 8.9 percent for Februrary. &nbsp;That's the first time since February 2009 that the unemployment rate has been below nine percent - and the 13th consecutive monthly decline in unemployment rolls.</p><p>Job growth in Illinois stands at 1.5 percent, which slightly outpaces the national average of 1.0 percent.&nbsp; The industries posting the biggest job increases in Illinois include Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, and Trade, Transporation and Utilities.</p><p>Forty-four states have added jobs during the last year, including some that were badly battered during the downturn. Since January 2010, Illinois has added 85,000 jobs, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.&nbsp; California added nearly 200,000 net jobs, and Michigan created a net 71,000 jobs during the last year.</p><p>Still, six states reported a net loss in jobs in that time, including a few that weren't considered trouble spots: New Jersey, New Mexico, and Kansas.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-economy/hiring-illinois-outpaces-national-average-84258