One year later, Illinois’ jobs recovery from COVID-19 among slowest in U.S.
Job losses peaked in April 2020 amid COVID-19 and state-mandated shutdowns. In the year-long recovery since, Illinois’ has been among the nation’s slowest.
Illinois’ jobs growth came to a grinding halt in April amid a national slowdown in the labor market recovery. The state added just 300 jobs from mid-March through mid-April, and actually shed 4,000 private sector jobs during the month.
Weak labor market performance relative to other states is something Illinois has had to contend with for much of the past year.
Job losses peaked in April 2020 amid COVID-19 and state-mandated shutdowns. In the year since, Illinois has added among the fewest jobs in the nation. Illinois ranks 44th in the nation in jobs growth since the recovery began at the end of April 2020.
Illinois has added 408,400 jobs (+7.7%) since April 2020, one of the slowest paces in the nation. The only states adding fewer jobs were Nebraska (+7.5%), Louisiana (+7.5%), Iowa (+7.4%), Oklahoma (+5.9%), Wyoming (+4.7%) and New Mexico (+4.2%).
Employment levels in Illinois remain 424,800 below their pre-pandemic peak in January 2020, meaning Illinois has regained fewer than half the jobs it lost during the pandemic. As a result, Illinois is battling one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
Unfortunately for those Illinoisans still out of work, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pursuing nine new taxes worth nearly $1 billion, including ones that would hurt job creation efforts. The move was decried by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Republicans because Pritzker is not closing unfair “loopholes” as he claimed, but rather trying to take back a deal he made early in his term for key tax incentives and deductions intended to create jobs.
Pritzker is also rumored to be pursuing the cancellation of a pandemic recovery tax credit for small businesses that could take from $500 million to $1 billion more from them as they struggle to recover. It is imperative lawmakers work to avoid the harm to businesses and jobs that tax hikes would create. Economists argue against raising taxes during a recession.
Illinois has already made this mistake once before, hiking taxes at the onset of the recovery of the Great Recession. Tax hikes as the state began trudging towards recovery resulted in a decline in investment and sluggish productivity and employment growth, contributing to the state’s lackluster recovery relative to its peers.
Instead of repeating past mistakes, Illinois can improve its finances and continue to provide core services mainly by implementing constitutional pension reform. The Illinois Policy Institute is offering that along with other fiscal fixes that can give overburdened Illinois taxpayers a path to declining debt, lower taxes and more effective state government.
Illinois needs its labor markets to improve so the state can create more jobs and grow the tax base, not to pass more and higher taxes that cost the state more jobs and residents.