Manufacturing employment in Illinois fell 2.9 percent over the past 12 months according to the 2011 Illinois Manufacturers Directory, an industrial directory published annually since 1912 by Manufacturers' News Inc. MNI reports Illinois lost 25,082 industrial jobs and 699 manufacturers between November 2009 and November 2010, roughly half the loss reported over the 2008-2009 survey period.

Manufacturers' News reports Illinois is now home to 19,380 manufacturers employing 824,902 workers.

"The recession continues to affect Illinois' manufacturing sector, but we're definitely seeing fewer job losses than we did a year ago," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912.

Bright spots for the state include the planned expansion of Chrysler's Belvidere assembly plant; and the expansions of meat processor Trim-Rite in Rantoul, Peerless Industries in Aurora, and pork processor Farmland Foods in Monmouth. In addition, several facilities have broken ground including Earth Friendly Products, which opened a new solar powered facility in Addison; Wanxiang America Corporation, which opened a solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford; as well as the planned opening of a new Boeing facility in Mascoutah.

MNI reports industrial machinery and equipment remains Illinois' largest industrial sector by employment with 128,518 jobs, down 3.5 percent. Second-ranked fabricated metals accounts for 95,222 jobs, down 4.4 percent over the past 12 months, while third-ranked food products manufacturing accounts for 94,112 industrial jobs, with no significant change reported.    

Employment in the lumber/wood sector experienced the sharpest decline, down 10.8 percent over the past year. Employment in furniture/fixtures fell 5.2 percent, according to MNI.

Most industrial sectors in Illinois lost jobs within the past year and included textiles/apparel, down 7.5 percent, following the closure of Seaford Clothing Company in Rock Island, among others. Electronics declined 5 percent, after the closure of Bloomington's GE facility, among others. Stone/clay/glass fell 4.4 percent; printing/publishing was down 3.2 percent; rubber/plastics, down 2.8 percent; primary metals, down 2.5 percent; and transportation equipment, also down 2.5 percent, due partially to the closures of Transcraft Corporation in Anna, and Honeywell Hobbs in Springfield.

Manufacturers' News reports Northeast Illinois accounts for 70 percent of the state's industrial employment, with 571,597 jobs, down 3 percent over the year. Job losses in Cook County represented 55 percent of the state's losses, with the region home to 307,756 industrial jobs, down 13,895 or 4.3 percent. Losses in the collar counties included DuPage, down 2 percent; McHenry, down 4.4 percent and Will, down 5.3 percent, while jobs remained steady in Kane County and increased by 2.4 percent in Lake County.  

Northwest Illinois accounts for 79,434 jobs, down 2.2 percent over the past 12 months. East Central Illinois is home to 55,660 jobs, down 3.6 percent, while West Central Illinois accounts for 55,851 industrial jobs, with no significant change reported over the year. Employment in Southwest Illinois fell 8.5 percent and now accounts for 34,866 jobs, while Southeast Illinois saw a drop of 2 percent, with the region currently home to 27,494 jobs.