We’ve warned consistently that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s inaction on Illinois’ biggest fiscal problems – pensions, property taxes, unbalanced budgets – would eventually come back to bite the state. Sure, he’s used the near-$200 billion in federal Covid bailout money to cover the state’s financial cracks in the short-term, but the governor can’t hide from the reality of his failures on jobs and growth.
At 4.5 percent in September, no other state has a higher unemployment rate than Illinois, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics release.
Illinoisans have been suffering in one the worst five states for unemployment for several months, but now the state has jumped to the number one position. This is what comes from pursuing policies that drive out companies like Boeing, Citadel, Caterpillar and Tyson.
Gov. Pritzker’s administration is already attempting to spin the data. Below is a quote from today’s press release from IDES:
“Today’s data is a clear indicator that the Illinois labor market continues to remain strong and stable,” said Deputy Governor Andy Manar.
Nothing state officials say can change the fact that Illinois is an extreme laggard both regionally and nationally when it comes to creating jobs.
Nor does it change the fact that Illinoisans are now poised to suffer the most during the next economic downturn. Bloomberg says there’s a 100% probability of a recession within the next 12 months and Illinois’ jobs climate is now the worst-positioned to deal with the impact.
All of Illinois’ neighboring states are in far better shape. Their unemployment rates are significantly below those in Illinois, most notably in Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri, where unemployment is 1 to 2 percentage points lower.
That difference in jobless rates represent a big difference in Illinoisans’ lives. Catching up with states like Missouri would mean 130,000 residents back at work – equivalent to the entire population of Springfield and then some.
Illinois’ worst-in-nation jobs climate was never preordained. With its central location, abundant resources and hard-working residents, it should be leading the nation in jobs and growth.
Illinoisans should blame the difference on state lawmakers’ many failed policies, from not addressing crime to ignoring the nation’s biggest pension debts to papering over the state’s financial problems to letting public unions dominate state policy to fostering rampant corruption.