A revision to federal jobs numbers released in January shows that Illinois added 1,500 jobs in 2015, but it was not enough to counter the nearly 6,000 who went on unemployment that same year.
According to an annual report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois' unemployment rate rose from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent in 2015, placing it last among its neighbors.
Across the Great Lakes states, Minnesota was the only other state to add people to the unemployment rolls over the same year.
The numbers released in January were revised to show additional job growth in Illinois over the last few years, according to Michael Lucci, director of jobs and growth at the Illinois Policy Institute
“So the BLS did make a significant ... revision, and it's positive news that Illinois has more job growth than we thought,” Lucci told the Madison County Record. “But it’s still the worst--especially in the manufacturing sector.”
The report notes that the state lost over 6,200 manufacturing jobs last year, while adding only 700. Lucci said his group focuses on manufacturing, which he says is most acutely affected by public policy decisions.
“Things like a property tax are going to really make a much bigger difference to a manufacturer with a huge facility than it will make to a hedge fund that has a little office space in St. Louis or Chicago,” Lucci said.
Lucci called out Illinois’ “broken” workers' compensation system as a driving factor for the manufacturing industries exodus.
Repairing this system is a “top priority” of Illinois Policy Institute. Lucci said the system particularly affects industries that employ a larger number of people and are, by the numbers, more likely to have workplace accidents. Changes, he said, could help grow working-class jobs within the state.
“Just make [worker's compensation] more reasonable, put it in line with other states,” Lucci said.
He said property taxes also need to be addressed. However, his organization would prefer to go after the “cost drivers,” or the law that forced local governments to spend more money, including pension and healthcare costs.
The numbers reflect a state that has had trouble pulling out of economic recession. Lucci said that from 2008, Illinois stood as the biggest loser of manufacturing jobs compared to other states in the Midwest. It’s a trend, he said, that stretches back at least to 2000.
“White collar industries that are not as affected by public policy decision … are doing ok In Illinois,” Lucci told AMI Newswire. “But when you look at those industries that we want to have robust job growth for the folks who choose not to go to college … those industries are very affected by policy … and policy leaders are really failing those folks.”