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Caterpillar Cuts Hurt Decatur Businesses
The number of out-of-work Caterpillar employees rises again. Friday, the Decatur plant announced an additional 300 layoffs over the next 60 days. These layoffs are in addition to the 460 jobs slashed earlier this year.
According to a Decatur business owner we talked to, the
effect of job loss on the community is simple. Less household income means
less spending. For any business owner who's selling a product that's not
absolutely essential, business gets tough.
Eddie Black runs a barbershop. He said that as layoffs and unemployment go up, his business goes down.
"It's just slowed down," Black said. "People can do without haircuts. They need food, they need gas, they need all the essentials but a haircut is not a must-have. It's kind of affected everybody I think."
The Decatur Economic Development Corporation blames the decline in the global mining industry for layoffs. The corporation's president said the effects of the most recent round of layoffs will be felt far outside the border of Macon County.
"I think it affects more than just the local economy because people have been laid off in all these roads that Caterpillar has announced and are really located throughout Central Illinois," corporation president Craig Coil said. "So although we're the home of Caterpillar we have people coming in from Sangamon County, Logan County, DeWitt--the whole circle around Decatur."
Despite the high unemployment rate for Decatur and Macon County, Coil thinks Decatur is in line for major development in the future. He said even Caterpillar has recently poured $500 million into Decatur's development in the past two years.
"Companies are making significant investment in Decatur and Macon County on a regular basis, and I think you only have to look at Caterpillar to show the optimism that the business community feels in the long-term upside about central Illinois," Coil said.
He is confident the Soy City will rebound, though he's uncertain of when investment will turn into actual job creation. Coil also mentioned some of the laid-off Cat employees could be recalled if the mining industry picks up in the coming months.
In March, Macon County's unemployment rate was 11.8 percent, compared to the statewide average of 9.4 percent.
Macon County is one of nearly three dozen Illinois counties that reported an unemployment rate higher than 10 percent in March.