Numbers from the January 2017 Illinois WARN report show most of the mass layoffs were in the service industry.
Layoffs in Cook and DuPage counties accounted for all of the mass layoffs reported across Illinois in January, according to state data.
The state’s first WARN report of the year revealed 429 mass layoffs. (The Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act requires companies that employ 75 people or more to report mass layoffs 60 days in advance. While not a comprehensive analysis of all layoffs, it is a useful tool for studying Illinois’ jobs climate for larger employers.) Though most of the jobs lost were service industry positions in retail and catering, which disproportionately affect young and unskilled workers, the state also shed manufacturing jobs.
The Fitzpatrick Company, a design and manufacturing business that specializes in process systems, announced 63 mass layoffs due to poor economic conditions. The affected workers are represented by the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, Local 265.
The employers that announced the highest number of layoffs include:
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Chicago – 96 layoffs
- Macy’s Inc. in Bloomingdale – 95 layoffs
- Aramark at Ingredion Inc. in Bedford Park ̶ 65 layoffs
- The Fitzpatrick Company in Elmhurst – 63 layoffs
All of the layoffs were permanent, with the exception of Goose Island Beer Company, which laid off workers temporarily due to renovations.
Bad policies at the state and local levels lead to mass layoffs. And workers across many industries bear the consequences, no matter their locality or union status.
Chicago, which accounted for 147 layoffs, has the highest combined sales tax of any major city in the nation, and Illinois has the seventh-highest combined average sales tax in the country. High sales taxes means less money for consumers to spend. This, in addition to the fact that Illinois has among the highest property taxes in the nation and the highest workers’ compensation costs in the Midwest, is costing the Prairie State. In 2016, Illinois finished last in the Midwest for jobs growth and lost 11,000 manufacturing jobs. Unions have especially suffered in Illinois, where union membership fell by 35,000 from 2015 to 2016.
And yet, politicians in Springfield want to double down on the same failed policies that hurt those who are already struggling. In addition to income tax hikes, some Illinois state senators have recently proposed raising taxes on food, drugs and medical supplies. One proposal would reduce the overall state sales tax to 5.75 percent from 6.25 percent, but then apply that new 5.75 percent rate to food, medicine and medical supplies, which currently are only taxed 1 percent at the state level. The proposed tax hike on these items would amount to a 475 percent increase.
Not only would this tax hike harm Illinois families who already struggle to make ends meet, but it would also take a toll on companies who rely on consumer sales. This would hurt Illinoisans who work in both the service and manufacturing industries. The proposed food, medicine and income tax hikes would also be counterproductive in the long term because they would exacerbate Illinois’ out-migration crisis – already the worst in the region – and thereby reduce the size of Illinois’ tax base.
Illinois needs real change that will help workers and consumers. By instituting pro-growth reforms and passing a truly balanced budget, the Land of Lincoln can foster a friendly jobs climate all across the state and provide better peace of mind to workers in all industries.