Although DuPage County has had its share of COVID-19 pandemic problems, from rising unemployment and crime to school and business closures, the county’s outlook is optimistic moving into 2022, Chairman Dan Cronin said.
This topic was among those discussed by Cronin when giving his annual State of the County address Wednesday afternoon during a multi-chamber luncheon, put on by Chamber 630 at the Westin Chicago Lombard.
“I am hopeful that this omicron variant, as I said earlier, the surge will recede soon,” Cronin said. “The numbers tend to indicate that.”
Health and Safety
The chairman encourages everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Cronin said the county has handled the challenges of the pandemic headfirst. “Thanks to the leadership of our DuPage County Health Department and the partnership of our truly marvelous, award-winning community-minded healthcare systems, DuPage County leads the state in the highest vaccination rate,” he said. “We have led consistently throughout every stage of this pandemic experience, whether it’s testing and now vaccination rates.”
Cronin said there’s nothing more important to him than the health and safety of the county’s residents. To that end, the county has taken action to double its annual funding commitment to the county’s Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education Task Force and invested in body-worn cameras for the county’s law enforcement employees.
Cronin acknowledged the challenges wreaked by the pandemic on the local economy. He said the county has shown resiliency.
In April 2020, DuPage County recorded an unemployment rate of 13.6%, which Cronin said was the highest rate reported since the Great Recession of 2008. Since then, the county has seen its unemployment rate fall to 3.2% this month.
“DuPage County employees, workers, citizens—they’re going back to work,” Cronin said.
When looking at the labor market, Cronin touted the support and services provided by staff at the career guidance services provider WorkNet DuPage. He credited the agency with helping employers to connect with job seekers.
“Clients advance their careers in the core key industry sectors of our county’s economy with 40% of the clients pursuing training and employment in information technology, followed by 19% in transportation and distribution logistics, 13% in healthcare and 12% in advanced manufacturing,” Cronin said.
Cronin said he is proud of the way DuPage County is navigating the pandemic. He gave kudos to the county board for demonstrating leadership.
“We have a team approach to how we govern in DuPage County,” Cronin said. “Nothing could be accomplished without our team, without our board.”
Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.
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