The news follows an announcement last week by Chrysler that
it will add almost 2,000 workers at a plant in northern Illinois, as
well as evidence that the national economy continues to pick up
steam. The federal government said Friday that the national
unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in three years.
Bloomington-based State Farm said it is accepting applications for
the 3,000 jobs, which will be mainly in customer service, claims and
information technology. In all, the hires will increase the
company's workforce -- currently at more than 65,000 employees, not
including its 17,800 agents -- by 4.6 percent.
Spokeswoman Holly Anderson said 300 of the staff jobs will be in
Bloomington, and the rest will be widely scattered.
"During the economic downturn, we really carefully monitored our
staffing levels. We are now hiring just to maintain and enhance our
customer service response," she said.
The company didn't lay off large numbers of workers during the
downturn, but left many positions open as workers left, Anderson
State Farm will try in particular to recruit military veterans,
she said, through both virtual and in-person job fairs.
"We have had a lot of success with veterans," she said. "We think
it's an easy transition for them to make."
Unemployment among veterans who have served since the 2001
terrorist attacks has been higher than in the nation as a whole,
though the figure dropped last month to 9.1 percent from just over
13 percent in December, the Department of Labor reported Friday.
Nationwide unemployment fell to 8.3 percent in January, the
department said Friday, down from 8.5 percent in December and the
lowest level since February 2009.
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State Farm is a privately held company and reports only limited
financial information annually in March. Last year, the company said
that profit during 2010 doubled to $1.8 billion.
State Farm has 15,000 employees in Bloomington and is the largest
employer in an area that has one of Illinois' lowest unemployment
rates. Just 7 percent of the McLean County workforce was jobless in
December, the most recent month for which local information is
University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz called State Farm's
motivation for adding employees an encouraging anecdote in a day of
good economic news.
"The thing about State Farm, more than just the number of jobs,
is the fact that they said it was as result of business picking up
after the recession," he said.
State Farm's announcement came a day after Chrysler announced it
is adding 1,800 workers to a staff of 2,700 at its plant in
Belvidere, just east of Rockford. The automaker was in bankruptcy as
recently as 2009 but said this week that 2011 was its first
profitable year since 1997.
By DAVID MERCER]
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