Illinois’ September 2015 jobs report: Businesses lay off thousands of blue-collar workers
Illinois continues to shed jobs and underperform economically compared to its Midwestern neighbors, according to new federal and state reports.
Illinois continued to shed jobs in September, as the state lost a total of 6,900 jobs, including 1,800 manufacturing jobs, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Illinois has lost manufacturing jobs in eight of the nine months between January 2015 and September 2015, for a total loss of 12,500 manufacturing jobs during this time period.
All told, Illinois lost 6,900 payroll jobs in September, according to the September jobs report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES. The IDES data, which are based on the BLS information, reveal the biggest drivers of Illinois’ job losses were trade, transportation and utilities (-6,400); leisure and hospitality (-1,900); and manufacturing (-1,800). Illinois had job gains in government (+2,100); other services (+1,500); and education and health services (+1,400).
The BLS household survey also showed that an additional 15,800 Illinoisans reported having some type of employment, while the number of unemployed Illinoisans fell by 10,300. Illinois’ labor force grew by 5,600 people, but is still down by 18,000 since December 2014.
Despite September’s increase in the number of Illinoisans who say they are working, Illinois still has the nation’s worst household employment recovery. There are 200,000 fewer Illinoisans working today compared to the state’s pre-recession peak in November 2007, a bigger drop-off than in any other state. The majority of other states have already regained and exceeded their pre-recession employment levels. But the Land of Lincoln’s lagging recovery leaves Illinois years from matching its pre-recession employment numbers.
Illinois’ labor force has also shrunk during the Great Recession era, collapsing by 216,000 people. Worker dropout has driven Illinois’ labor-force participation rate to 38-year lows, dropping to 64.4 percent in September 2015 from 68.8 percent before the 2008 recession.
Overall job creation in Illinois’ neighboring states was tepid in September, with most states in the region losing jobs month-over-month. However, on the year-to-date comparison, all of Illinois’ neighboring states have dramatically outperformed Illinois.
Illinois only created 2,200 total jobs in the first nine months of 2015, whereas its neighbors have seen significantly higher jobs growth. Iowa has created six times as many jobs as Illinois between January 2015 and September 2015, and Missouri and Kentucky have each created seven times as many jobs as Illinois during the same period. Wisconsin residents have seen 12 times as many jobs created as have Illinoisans. Indiana created 18 times as many jobs as Illinois, and Michigan created 24 times as many jobs as Illinois between January 2015 and September 2015.
Illinois’ most troubled sector is manufacturing. Illinois lost 1,800 factory jobs in September, while Indiana and Michigan gained manufacturing jobs. Ohio and Wisconsin also lost manufacturing jobs.
Illinois has lost 12,500 manufacturing jobs since January 2015, compared to 1,400 gained in Wisconsin; 5,800 gained in Indiana; 8,500 gained in Ohio; and 17,800 gained in Michigan during this time. The other four Great Lakes manufacturing states have added a combined 33,500 manufacturing jobs in 2015, while Illinois has lost 12,500.
Illinois’ terrible manufacturing performance this year is part of a longer-term trend. During the recovery from the Great Recession, Illinois has regained only 14,700 manufacturing jobs, compared to 46,900 factory jobs regained in Wisconsin; 73,600 in Ohio; 95,000 in Indiana; and 162,100 in Michigan.
Illinois’ weak jobs performance contributes directly to the state’s record out-migration problem. The most recent Internal Revenue Service data show that Illinois is losing one person and $50,000 of taxable income every 6.5 minutes. Without more jobs, Illinois cannot grow its tax base.
Many workers who are not leaving Illinois are trapped in dependency because there are not enough good jobs being created in the Land of Lincoln. There are more than 2 million Illinoisans enrolled in the food-stamps program, meaning Illinois has a bigger portion of its population dependent on food assistance than any other state in the Midwest.
Policy reforms must target job creation and attracting new businesses. That’s why the three pieces of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s job-creation agenda are so important. These three economic reforms propose policy fixes that will allow more jobs to be created for hardworking Illinoisans:
- Regulatory reform to fix Illinois’ broken workers’ compensation system, which drives manufacturing jobs out of the state
- Regulatory reform to fix the state’s anti-business lawsuit climate
- Tax and spending reform to freeze the nation’s second-highest property taxes and allow local governments to control budget costs
These reforms would undo years of anti-growth policies that stand in the way of Illinoisans finding rewarding work opportunities. And they would begin to transform Illinois from a state that drives jobs away into a state where workers can find good opportunities to provide for their families.