A new Illinois jobs report has just improved Governor Pat Quinn's chances of keeping his.
The Illinois unemployment rate fell in August for the sixth consecutive month to 6.7 percent while employers created +13,800 jobs, a new government labor survey says.
According to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the drop from 9.2 percent one year ago marks the largest year-over-year decline since 1984.
The last time the rate was lower than 6.7 was in July 2008 when it was 6.6. Also, there are +40,600 more jobs than one year ago.
"Five months of job creation coupled with increased help-wanted advertising indicate a bit of momentum as we head into the Fall," IDES Director Jay Rowell said.
Since 1976, the monthly Illinois rate has averaged 0.6 points higher than the national rate. August marks the second consecutive month that the state rate has hit that benchmark. Illinois last did so in Spring, 2012.
The unemployment rate also is in line with other economic indicators.
First-time jobless claims have been trending lower for the past four years and in August, the number of monthly claims was at its lowest level since 1998, according Rowell.
Moreover, Illinois' jobs chief says that numbers from the independent Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine Index show that Illinois employers in August advertised for nearly 225,900 jobs and 84 percent sought full-time work.
August job growth came from Leisure and Hospitality (+5,000); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+4,300); and Professional and Business Services (+3,300).
The new unemployment report comes as Quinn is battling for reelection against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner who has made Illinois' economy a central issue, arguing that Quinn's polices have retarded economic growth and job creation.
But the fresh employment numbers will undoubtedly boost the governor's claim that Illinois is "making a comeback", a Quinn theme that had been derided earlier this summer by Republicans and some media pundits. But it now appears to have some economic justification.
Whether the improving Illinois jobs picture is enough to alter the current negative narrative held by many voters that the Illinois economy is "struggling" remains an open question.
And despite the good job news, Rauner found room to criticize Quinn.
"It's always good news when more Illinoisans are working. Unfortunately, we still have a huge ways to go to get out of the massive hole that's been dug in our state by the Quinn-Madigan-Blagojevich machine," Rauner said in a statement. "We need to put our economy on jet fuel, and under Pat Quinn it's struggling along on leaded gas".
But job growth is not the only good economic news Quinn has had to bolster his Illinois "comeback" mantra.
According to a new study from the moving company United Van Lines, Chicago leads the nation as the most popular city in the country for moves, followed by Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix and New York.
From the four-month period of May through August 2014, 65.2 percent of those engaged in a Chicago move were arriving rather than leaving the city, a turnaround from last year when the numbers were just the opposite.
Both the new jobs data and the Chicago arrival statistics give Quinn some bragging rights on the campaign trail and give his Illinois comeback claim some renewed credibility.
Meanwhile, his critics may be the ones left struggling.