Illinois has recovered only 69% of its pre-pandemic jobs

Illinois has recovered only 69% of its pre-pandemic jobs

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois’ economic recovery in 2021 lagged other states. A lack of in-person schooling, fewer economic opportunities and high taxes only exacerbated the ongoing population loss.

2021 was a great year for U.S. employment recovery, but the job gains were mostly concentrated in four states: Texas, Arizona, Utah and Idaho. They’re the only states that surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels as of December 2021.

Illinois recovered only 69% of its pre-pandemic jobs, the lowest percentage of any Midwest state and the eighth lowest nationally. The result is more residents packing up and starting over in a new state.

2021 was the eighth consecutive year of population decline in Illinois, the second longest streak in the nation behind West Virginia. Population loss was an issue before 2020, but the pandemic only exacerbated Illinois’ outmigration. Population loss costs Illinois’ economy over $31 billion.

Illinoisans choosing to stay are left with a serious issue: a weaker economy with a growing fiscal imbalance that will likely result in higher taxes.

The issue lies with the policy climate. Fewer economic opportunities and high taxes give people even more reason to leave the state. A friendlier business environment, coupled with a lower cost of living, would attract more workers and break Illinois’ streak of population loss.

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