The economic recovery in Illinois remains terribly weak. Our state has failed to make a strong comeback from the Great Recession that ended four years ago, in June 2009. We are falling further behind not just Texas, but practically every other state — including states such as Indiana that can make stronger arguments for luring Illinois businesses relatively short distances.
Only Nevada has a higher unemployment rate than Illinois. But even that Nevada rate, 9.7 percent, has fallen almost 2 percentage points in the last year. Nationwide, the jobless rate is 7.6 percent.
The Illinois jobs crisis reflects a widespread lack of confidence in the ability of this state’s leaders to manage public finances. The failure to address out-of-control public pension costs is the biggest single factor. But the reasons for business to be skeptical about the future of Illinois go beyond that elephant in the room:
State government is insolvent, unable to pay bills as they come due. It has no viable plan for fixing its biggest financial problems. A 2011 income tax increase, including a 67-percent rise in the rate individuals pay, betrayed that lawmakers would rather raise revenue than slash spending. And some legislators are plotting to make that supposedly temporary tax increase permanent. Disintegrating credit ratings mean that Illinoisans pay high interest rates — a waste of hundreds of millions of dollars every year — to buyers of state bonds.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor