High cost of government shrinks Illinois’ workforce
Population decline has shrunk Illinois’ workforce and the relative size of the state economy. Attracting more workers from other states starts with lowering the cost of living, decreasing pension costs and debt, and improving the state’s social services.
Population losses worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic have put Illinois’ workforce in a difficult situation.
As of December 2021, Illinois was still missing 4% of its pre-pandemic employment levels, much more than the national average of 2.8%.
Illinois created fewer new job openings than most states with respect to its unemployed population. As a result, finding a job in Illinois is harder than in nearly any other state.
Eleven states reformed their income tax systems to reduce overall tax burdens for residents. Tax relief for residents only helps economies recover by attracting new workers avoiding higher costs of living.
Massive public employee retirement costs prevent Illinois from cutting taxes for residents. Pension spending takes up 26% of Illinois’ budget – the most of any state.
It’s where the bulk of property taxes go, explaining why Illinoisans face the second highest property taxes in the nation.
Lowering the cost of government in Illinois is impossible without reducing public pension debt and other costs. Only a constitutional amendment approved by voters can reform the cost of government retirement plans.
With more room in the budget, Illinoisans will benefit from tax relief, better social services, or both.
If Illinois offers better social services and education, combined with a lower cost of living, it will attract more workers and end its long history of population decline.