SPRINGFIELD – Illinois companies warned of more than 1,700 job cuts in September, bringing the total number of workers that could lose their jobs through mass layoffs in 2012 to an estimated 11,708.

Along with the loss of 310 jobs with the closure of the BRP boat factory in Benton, the monthly layoff list released by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity includes 50 jobs at Vonachen Services in Pontiac and 60 positions at Regional Elite Airline Services in Moline.

The layoffs, which don’t count smaller-scale layoffs at other businesses, come as the pace of recovery from the recession remains sluggish, according to the University of Illinois Flash Index.

While the index increased slightly in September, it remains at least a point below similar stages in the recovery from prior recessions, noted economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Peoria-based Vonachen provides janitorial services to the Caterpillar plant in Pontiac. The state report notes that the layoffs could start Oct. 27. Company officials did not immediately return telephone messages, but the state report noted that the layoffs could be temporary.

At the Quad City International Airport, Regional Elite Airline Services, which provides baggage handling and ground services, announced 60 jobs cuts. But, airport chief Bruce Carter said the workers are being hired by a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, resulting in no net loss of employment.

Other layoffs around the state include nearly 1,000 cuts at American Airlines’ O’Hare International Airport operation and 110 job caused by the closing of a Kmart store in Fairview Heights.

In all, eight companies announced large-scale job cuts, according to the report.

Illinois’ unemployment rate dropped more than a percentage point in August to 9.1 percent. Giertz said the lower rate illustrates improvement in the economy, but the rate is still extremely high by historical standards.

kurt.erickson@lee.net / 217-782-4043

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