6 Illinois metro areas await pandemic recovery, just 6 add jobs in January

6 Illinois metro areas await pandemic recovery, just 6 add jobs in January

Six of the 13 Illinois metro areas still reported fewer jobs than prior to the pandemic. Six metros added jobs from December 2023 to January 2024, led by the Champaign-Urbana area.

New data shows 6 of 13 Illinois metro areas added jobs in January 2024, reporting an overall decline of 800 jobs statewide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Champaign-Urbana metro area saw the largest percent increase in non-farm employment, growing 1.67% since December. Leading the losses was the Kankakee area.

State employment growth continued to lag the national economy. Illinois reported 0.01% fewer jobs in January, compared to 0.15% growth nationwide.

Employment gains were most heavily concentrated in the Champaign-Urbana area, which added 44 out of every 100 new jobs gained during the past month. Three metros reported no change in employment from December.

The Chicago metro area’s gains ranked fourth among Illinois metro areas from December 2023 to January 2024 and 30th among the 35 largest metro areas in the country.

Overall, seven Illinois metro areas added jobs since January 2023 and reported higher employment than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one metro outperformed the U.S. job recovery rate: Bloomington at 7.87%, compared to 3.61% nationwide.

Illinois employment growth exceeded pre-pandemic levels but trailed behind the national economy, with the state adding 0.15% more jobs. Six areas continued to report fewer jobs than four years ago.

Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery from the pandemic has been further complicated by population loss continuing to hit communities across the state. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Illinois lost 32,826 residents in 2023, marking the state’s 10th consecutive year of population decline.

Historically, high taxes have been the No. 1 reason Illinoisans considered leaving the state. The Illinois Policy Institute’s Lincoln Poll in 2023 substantiated that reason.

Illinois’ state and local tax burden is the highest in the Midwest. Illinois also levies the second-highest state corporate income tax in the nation and the state’s tax code is among the least friendly for businesses in the Midwest.

Recent income tax hikes have already fostered an environment in Illinois that makes it harder for Illinoisans to find work and reduces wage growth prospects for those who are employed. Now Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to cut $45 from each family of four’s state income tax exemption to balance his record $52.7 billion budget. Rising income and property taxes have made housing less affordable in Illinois and reduced returns on housing investment relative to other states.

If Illinois is to meet its potential, state leaders need to stop hamstringing the economy with high taxation and poor public policy. Illinois must focus on strengthening its fiscal positionremoving regulatory burdens, and providing real tax relief both to workers who are already finding it difficult to remain and to job creators who are desperately trying to stay.

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