According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate in Illinois currently stands at 9.1 percent.

This is a jump from January when the rate was at 8.5 percent. The unemployment rate nationwide is currently at 8.9 percent. But despite this trend of Illinoisans losing their jobs, there is a silver lining in the dark cloud.

In April, the unemployment rates, while continuing to increase in number, have slowed in pace.

“Jobs continue to be lost but not as many as there were earlier in the year,” said Greg Rivara, spokesperson for the employment security department.

“Some see it as the first sign that the economy is beginning to recover, and that maybe we have seen the worst of the job losses so far, but it’s hard to say right now.”

Rivara noted that while the education and health care industry remain the most secure as far as jobs, mostly every other industry has been hit hard.

“I would say that education, especially pre-K and special education, health care, and computer information systems are the most reliable fields to obtain employment in,” he said. “Conversely speaking, the industries that have taken the biggest hit in the present market have been manufacturing-obviously because consumers are buying less- construction-because homes and roads are not being built-and business services.”

According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, an association of workers in the human resources field, in April, Illinoisans, saw a 53.5 point drop in manufacturing-sector hiring, and a 40.7-point decline in service-sector hiring, compared to this time last year.

Still, Rivara advises job seekers in Illinois to stay optimistic. He insists that they keep their resume updated and actively look at ways that they can apply their skills in other fields.

“If you are a mechanic, for example, but are having a difficult time finding work at a dealership,” Rivara said, “you should think about the skills necessary to be effective at that job and apply them toward another career path. You may want to consider taking courses for plumbing or engineering since they also require individuals to have a proven talent with working with their hands.”

Rivara added that individuals should also be preparing for when the job market does recover because the skills they acquire now will make them that more marketable.

“You want to be able to say that you have even more skills to work with. I would strongly suggest taking a class in a field of interest or honing your skills in your present field,” he said. “As competitive as the market is, you want to give yourself every possible advantage to be successful.”

State Rep. LaShawn Ford (8th) has seen the recent ups-and-downs the job market has had on the Austin community. Ford sponsored a career development forum in March, attracting more than 600 job seekers.

“I received a lot of appreciative e-mails from people who did get hired,” he said. “Some of the vendors on location at the event included Coca-Cola, Pace Transportation and the state police. It was a glimpse of what I hope will be the start of a trend pointing upward for job growth. The Austin community has been especially hit by the escalation in unemployment.”

President Barack Obama’s stimulus package is expected to provide funds for states to invest job creation. The money is expected to go toward agricultural and construction projects. Ford, though, noted that the funds are not going out as quickly as expected.

“I have not heard anything further in terms of when the stimulus funds will be dispersed. I am hoping the president will allow for them to be released soon,” Ford said. “I think it could dramatically impact the employment opportunities in Illinois.”