Employers in Illinois announced 982 mass layoffs February with 246 of the lost jobs coming from the manufacturing sector.
These figures come from February reporting the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN Act mandates. While WARN reports are not indicative of all jobs lost in Illinois, they are a useful tool for studying large scale layoffs.
February’s WARN report marked the worst figures since August 2016 when more than 1,000 workers received pink slips. And February’s losses more than doubled January’s WARN numbers, which included 429 mass layoffs.
The vast majority of the job loss was in Cook County, where 770 employees were laid off. Adams, McLean and DuPage counties also had mass layoff announcements.
United Airlines Inc. cut the most jobs, letting go of 300 of its employees permanently due to restructuring.
U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. came a close second, announcing 246 permanent manufacturing layoffs at its Franklin Park location. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco did not provide the reason for the layoffs in its WARN reporting.
Implications of new WARN Report for “grand bargain” budget deal
February’s spike in mass layoff should be a wakeup call for Illinois lawmakers currently piecing together a so-called “grand bargain” budget deal. Although several iterations of the “grand bargain” have come and gone, every version seems to have one common theme: tax hikes with little real reform to improve the economy and spur investment and jobs growth.
Illinoisans know more taxes will only make the state’s economic numbers worse. Recent polling the Illinois Policy Institute commissioned revealed the vast majority of Illinoisans want a budget without tax hikes.
Illinois already has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, the seventh highest combined sales tax in the country and the most expensive workers compensation costs in the Midwest. And Illinois has the worst out-migration problem in the region, with residents, especially those in their prime working years, leaving the state for better opportunities elsewhere. Against this backdrop, raising taxes and failing to reform anti-growth policies such as Illinois’ outdated and expensive workers’ compensation system will only hurt residents and businesses further, providing more incentives for people and companies to leave the state.
Illinois should look across state lines for pro-growth policy ideas
Illinois can look to its neighbor Indiana for ways to get its economy on a better track.
The Hoosier state has lower income taxes than Illinois and has no local sales taxes, bringing the overall sales tax burden down far below Illinois’ average combined rate of 8.64 percent. Indiana’s property tax rates are less than half Illinois’, and Indiana has the second least expensive workers’ compensation costs in the nation. These conditions have made Indiana a more attractive place for both residents and employers. Illinois lost, on net, 119,165 residents to Indiana in the last 10 years. And in Indiana, a Right-to-Work state, union membership has increased. From 2015-2016, Indiana gained 21,000 union jobs. Illinois, which does not have Right to Work, lost 35,000 union jobs during this time.
Instead of looking for more and more ways to tax residents and businesses to prop up the failed status quo, Illinois lawmakers should look next door for inspiration for a “grand bargain” that will foster a healthy economic climate to benefit all Illinoisans.