This article was written by Charles Thomas and featured on ABC7 on August 18, 2014.
As Gov. Pat Quinn celebrated the dropping unemployment rate in Illinois, his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner questions the numbers.
Both candidates are still spinning last week’s U.S. Department of Labor report that the state’s unemployment rate had fallen 25 percent from a year ago.
Quinn helped announce 500 new jobs in Rockford Monday morning and the governor rode the falling unemployment rate news to his next appearance in Chicago.
“We have a long way to go, but we’re on the right path,” Quinn said.
In August of 2013, the Illinois jobless rate stood at 9.2-percent. The rate today is 6.8-percent, the largest reduction of any state during the past 12 months.
“Our unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in the last six years. We’re on the right track,” Quinn said.
Still, Republican Rauner insists there has been no net increase of jobs since Democrat Quinn became governor.
“There was no increase in employment in July,” Micahel Lucci, Illinois Policy Institute, said.
Lucci’s Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank funded in part by Rauner, has another explanation for the drop in unemployment.
“So 17,000 people just quit the workforce and stopped looking and that’s why the unemployment rate went down this month,” Lucci said.
But Quinn supporters say the past year is evidence of a strong recovery.
“You have to go back 30 years to find a time when the unemployment rate has dropped that far, that fast,” Adam Pollet said.
In a statement, Rauner doubled down on belief that Illinois is losing jobs. He said, “Thanks to Pat Quinn, we are still leading the Midwest in job losses.”
“I don’t need to take any advice on economics from Bruce Rauner. He’s a leader when it comes to cutting jobs and outsourcing jobs,” Quinn said.
Late Monday afternoon, the Rauner campaign called Governor Quinn the “greatest outsourcer of jobs in Illinois.” The campaign cited numbers from the same jobs report showing Illinois leading all of its bordering states– except Kentucky– in job losses.