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Aurora jobs report shows recovery from pandemic


A report released this week shows Aurora is rebounding from the business it lost during the coronavirus outbreak.

The report, prepared by Invest Aurora, a nonprofit organization that is an arm of the city of Aurora’s economic development efforts, said the city has created 5,771 new jobs since the pandemic.

The report was presented to the City Council by Loretta Daly, Invest Aurora’s interim president and CEO, at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

“What you’re starting to see, and what you’re seeing throughout this report, are the impacts of the pandemic; that was a real game changer,” he said. “What you can also see, and equally important, is a very strong comeback. We made up for the loss and then some.”

There were an average of 72,026 jobs in Aurora over the six-year period from 2017 to 2022, according to the report. While the city lost jobs during the pandemic, it was able to prevent larger job losses by assisting businesses and helped preserve many of the jobs. Officials said the doors were open.

There was also a 17.3% increase in average annual wages for each job over the six-year period, to $64,388. Similar-sized cities Elgin and Naperville saw similar percentage increases during that time, but Daly said Aurora had a higher average annual wage for each job than neighboring Naperville, which had a median annual wage of $58,753.

Daly noted a strong response to programs undertaken by both the city and state to subsidize businesses during the pandemic.

Aurora has awarded 180 grants totaling nearly $1.7 million to small businesses through STABLE and CERF funds, and the state has awarded 156 grants totaling nearly $5.2 million to area businesses through two rounds of the Back to Work program.

“So I think our efforts toward post-pandemic activities are really working,” Daly said. “We are seeing significant employment growth that we would not have seen if we had not protected our jobs.”

Mayor Richard Irvin attributed those strong numbers to the economic development work his administration has done and the City Council doling out money to businesses for things like paying rent during tough times.

“I must give you credit, and you must give yourself credit for providing assistance…” he said. “They all helped. We’ve done a lot. This is raw data; We’re not making this up. “We can understand what we have done in the past and what we can do in the future.”

Ald. Carl Franco, Ward 5, said the numbers show the city spent wisely the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding it received from the U.S. Congress.

“It’s not just about doing a good job, it’s about creating an image that we will always do a good job,” he said.

The report looked at 15 job categories and found that none of those sectors experienced an overall decline between 2017 and 2022, Daly said. The retail trade sector was the fastest growing sector with 62%. Other sectors growing well include arts, entertainment and recreation, at 36%; accommodation and food services, 35%; administration, support and waste management, 35%; and real estate, 34%.

Looking at the raw numbers, Daly said the transportation and warehousing category showed the biggest growth, with 1,167 jobs created, and the manufacturing sector increased by 832 jobs.

There were some caveats about the numbers. For example, although the manufacturing sector created a number of new jobs, most of the approximately 57% increase was temporary. Temporary workers are reflected in some of these figures and it is difficult to understand at the moment how this affects average wage figures.

“So we’re seeing a huge increase in the use of temporary workers,” Daly said.

He also noted that the accommodation and food service category suffered the most job losses from the pandemic through 2021 but has bounced back strongly. This is where the pandemic has had the biggest percentage wage increase.

“I think this is attributed to the fact that during the pandemic these industries have been the hardest hit and the hardest (businesses) to get back,” Daly said. “So they had to adjust the salaries.”



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