One of the Greater Freeport Partnership’s goals is to be the resource for business and community data. This monthly update will strive to provide some of this information.
In June, unemployment in Freeport was 5.0%, up from 4.7% in May. Stephenson County’s rate was unchanged at 3.9%. A few comments about June’s numbers:
1. The city of Freeport’s unemployment rate is higher than Stephenson County’s rate; however, it is down in both areas from the same period in 2018.
2. Stephenson County has more people in the workforce than in May 2019 — a positive trend.
3. Manufacturing, government and education/health services continue to be our largest employment sectors.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) publishes detailed monthly data on its website (www.ides.illinois.gov).
The Partnership’s greatest priority will continue to be assisting our employers in finding qualified workers for their openings, so our robust local economy can continue.
Data tracked by the Partnership
The Greater Freeport Partnership’s board of directors has been discussing data to be tracked consistently in order to report on and analyze trends regarding our community’s wealth. Note that numbers by themselves are not meaningful — it is the stories they tell about our area that are important. Currently, the board has decided to track the following information:
2. Median age
3. Educational attainment
4. Persons in poverty
5. Per capita income
6. Median household income
7. Median home value
8. Adult obesity rate
9. Cancer mortality rate
10. Crime index
11. Equalized assessed value
12. Labor force participation rate/number of people employed
13. Retail sales
14. Residential real estate sales/days on the market
We are working to discover the best, most economical sources for this information. Currently, much of it is available in federal government census reports (www.census.gov). For example, we can report the following information: Stephenson County has lost 6.2% of its population since 2010, vs. a loss of 0.7% for the state of Illinois. In addition, our median age is 45.2 years, vs. the state at 37.9 years.
Further, our median household income is 24.2% lower than the state. These numbers are important to know as we plan for our future and consider the types of jobs and education resources we want to target.
We will track and report on observable trends for Freeport and Stephenson County starting this fall. Partnership members can request reports of additional data to support their businesses.
Also, Stephenson County belongs to the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council area, as determined by the U.S. Economic Development Agency. This group produces a comprehensive economic development strategy plan every five years, which includes data trends. To access the most recent plan for 2019-2024, go to this link: https://www.blackhawkhills.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2019-07-26-2019-2024-CEDS-for-Web.pdf
Originally published in the Journal Standard.