Illinois’ unemployment rate ranks 4th worst in the nation

Illinois’ unemployment rate ranks 4th worst in the nation

Illinois’ unemployment rate ranked fourth worst in the nation in January 2024 after a decline in the number of jobs statewide during the past 12 months. Illinois continues to lag the nation and all its neighbors in job growth.

Illinois’ unemployment rate tied for 4th-worst in the U.S. in January 2024, with 4.7% of the state’s workforce unemployed, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Illinois’ unemployment rate continued to exceed the national average of 3.7% in January. It was higher than in any neighboring state.

Illinois lost 6,600 jobs between January 2024 and January 2023, ranking 49th among U.S. states for non-farm job growth at -0.1%. Nationwide, states added 2.76 million jobs during that time, growing by 1.8%.

Illinois’ private education and health services and local government sectors reported the largest net increases in employment.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ professional and business services sector led the state in job losses during the 12-month period, reporting 40,000 fewer positions than a year earlier.

While Illinois saw modest gains across half of its industries, driven in large part by growth in the government sector, the state continued to lag the national economy as well as most neighboring states.

Illinois reported the worst job growth rate among neighboring states from January 2023 to January 2024 at -0.1%. Indiana reported the strongest job growth at 1.6%.

Illinois’ job recovery rate since the pandemic also ranked worst among its neighboring states and 46th in the nation, with 38,900 fewer jobs than were available in January 2020.

Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery from the pandemic has been further complicated by population loss continuing to hit communities across the state. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Illinois lost 32,826 residents in 2023, marking the state’s 10th consecutive year of population decline.

Historically, high taxes have been the No. 1 reason Illinoisans considered leaving the state. The Illinois Policy Institute’s Lincoln Poll in 2023 substantiated that reason.

Illinois’ state and local tax burden is the highest in the Midwest. Illinois also levies the second-highest state corporate income tax in the nation and the state’s tax code is among the least friendly for businesses in the Midwest.

Recent income tax hikes have already fostered an environment in Illinois that makes it harder for Illinoisans to find work and reduces wage growth prospects for those who are employed. Now Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to cut $45 from each family of four’s state income tax exemption to balance his record $52.7 billion budget. Rising income and property taxes have made housing less affordable in Illinois and reduced returns on housing investment relative to other states.

If Illinois is to meet its potential, state leaders need to stop hamstringing the economy with high taxation and poor public policy. Illinois must focus on strengthening its fiscal positionremoving regulatory burdens, and providing real tax relief both to workers who are already finding it difficult to remain and to job creators who are desperately trying to stay.

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