Illinois needs reform, not rose-colored glasses

August 8, 2014
By Michael Lucci

This article was written by Illinois Policy Institute Director of Jobs and Growth Michael Lucci, and featured in the Journal Standard on Aug. 7, 2014. 

In an Aug. 3 opinion piece titled “Illinois-Indiana job numbers don’t add up,” Chuck and Pat Wemstrom object to the fact that Indiana is massively outpacing Illinois in net job creation. The piece attempts to lay out the narrative that Illinois is creating enough jobs and growing just fine.

However, the truth is that Illinois is failing to create jobs, and Illinoisans are continuing to struggle. Saying that the state’s job growth is healthy or even positive is incredibly misleading.

For example, the article cites the fact that Illinois has added 250,000 private-sector jobs since the end of the recession. But that ignores the fact that Illinois lost 410,000 private sector jobs during the recession. On net, Illinois is down 160,000 jobs. That is not positive growth.

The reality is that of all the states in the Midwest, Illinois has the worst record of job loss since the Great Recession began. Indiana, on the other hand, has already recovered the jobs lost during the Great Recession, leaving Illinois years behind.

Illinois’ leadership continues to embarrass the state. Across the country, Illinois is dead-last in job creation for the first six months of 2014, with a loss of 18,000 private-sector jobs. Indiana is up 20,000 jobs on the year.

Trying to selectively find the best-looking economic numbers to prove a point is dishonest and dangerous. The reality is that ever-increasing taxes and Illinois public policy are crippling a state that is desperate for work. Illinois needs reform, not rose-colored glasses.