Illinois’ best jobs month of the year, 2014 wrap up

Illinois’ best jobs month of the year, 2014 wrap up

An encouraging December helped pull the Land of Lincoln out of last place in the Midwest for 2014 jobs growth.

The Illinois unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in December from 6.4 percent in November, according to today’s economic release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Payroll jobs in Illinois increased by 17,100 in December, and November jobs gains were revised upward by 4,800. The number of people working grew by 15,700 over the month, making December a solid month of growth across both the household and business surveys.

An encouraging December helped pull the Land of Lincoln out of last place in the Midwest for 2014 jobs growth. Illinois jumped to 10th from last in the Midwest, and to 43rd from 47th nationally for 2014 jobs-growth rate, according to the Bureau’s business establishment survey.


The household survey showed the number of unemployed people in Illinois fell by 15,200, while the number of people employed increased by 15,700, meaning new employment accounted for the entire drop in the unemployment rate. The state’s workforce expanded by 500 people.

Illinois’ strong showing on both jobs surveys clearly makes December the top month of 2014 for the state’s jobs record, perhaps indicating that business owners breathed a collective sigh of relief after the November election.

The 2014 Jobs Tracker shows that Texas led the nation for creating new jobs on the year. Despite plunging oil prices, the Lone Star State has not yet shown signs of a jobs slowdown. Texas created 45,700 new jobs in December, better than their pace for the year.

Ohio and Indiana topped the Midwest in the absolute number of jobs they created in 2014. Ohio won out with 61,500 jobs, and Indiana, a much smaller state, took second with 58,400 jobs. Wisconsin followed Indiana with 53,300 new jobs on the year.


However, in terms of percentage growth, North Dakota once again led the nation in adding opportunity. Texas took second, followed closely by Utah. The 2014 rankings show the states that grew their economies the most are generally those friendlier to free enterprise.


Gov. Bruce Rauner is well aware of the many problems plaguing Illinoisans, and he outlined Illinois’ pain points in his presentation to business students at the University of Chicago. In that presentation, the governor noted Illinois’ extraordinary out-migration problem, toxic business climate and poor record of job creation.

The presentation pointed out that Illinois’ workers’ compensation and unemployment-insurance systems are extremely costly compared to neighboring states. Reforming the two systems would provide a high-impact stimulus for job creation, and wouldn’t cost the state any money in lost revenue.

In addition, policy leaders can use the new revenue from the Amazon tax to eliminate Illinois’ death tax, one of the state’s most harmful drivers of out-migration. Adopting a bipartisan legislative agenda to foster entrepreneurship is another way to enhance growth, especially for low-income entrepreneurs, without bothering the state budget.

After an encouraging December, Illinoisans should hope for smart policy decisions like these to help keep up the pace.

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