It's Not Just People - Illinois Suffered The Nation's 3rd-Worst Loss Of Businesses

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jun 22, 2023 - 11:40 PM

Authored by Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner via,

Illinois’ constant bleed of residents to other states has been well documented by the Census Bureauthe IRSU-HaulUnited Van Lines and others.

Now the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released data that shows businesses are leaving Illinois, too.

Illinois lost a net 208 single-establishment firms to out-migration in 2021, the 3rd-worst loss behind only New York (-487) and California (-456).

The biggest winner was Florida, which gained, on net, nearly 400 businesses that year. North Carolina (149) was 2nd and Nevada and Texas tied for 3rd (103).

Wirepoints also calculated the business gains/losses per 1 million residents to take into account state size. Illinois ranked 2nd-worst nationally, with only New York experiencing a bigger loss. The full data table of all states is included in the appendix below. 

The BLS report only tracked single-establishment firms, which likely underestimates the gains and losses from the movement of headquarters and other large firm workforces. 

That means big HQ losses including those of Citadel, Boeing and Caterpillar are not captured in the data, nor are the losses from closures like those of Walmart, which shut stores in Illinois earlier this year.

Florida’s gains and Illinois’ losses were part of a larger trend where the South is winning the competition for businesses at the expense of the Northeast, the Midwest and the West. The West experienced overall losses due to California’s surge in business losses. 

Cross-state migration across the country was led by small services companies including law, accounting and consulting firms, as well professional and technical companies. The Chicago metropolitan area’s diverse economy has lots such firms and they are extremely mobile, likely impacting Illinois overall numbers. From the BLS study:

“Firm migration has been higher in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry sector than it has been in other industries. Businesses in professional, scientific, and technical services conduct activities that require a high degree of training and expertise, such as legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; computer services; consulting services; and research services to clients in a variety of industries.”

In 1994, 16 percent of all migration was in this sector. In 2010, this share rose to 28 percent. In 2021, it reached an all-time high of 30 percent…most of the growth in firm migration occurred in this sector, causing the industry’s share of overall migration to rise. In 2021, firm migration in the professional, scientific, and technical services was 390 percent of its 1994 levels, compared with 145 percent for all other industries.”

Expect more information from the BLS in the future, but this preliminary data does prove one thing, that “as people migrate, so too does economic activity.”

So as Illinois continues to bleed people, it will also bleed jobs and opportunity.