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McCarter says joblessness is one of Illinois’ many worries

EDITOR’s NOTE: This column is a weekly update offered by state Sen.Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.

SPRINGFIELD  – New employment and job numbers for Illinois are available and despite the recent hype over the downward unemployment rate, the state’s economy continues to struggle.

Reporting on negative economic news is disappointing, but it is also necessary because we can’t fix what is wrong and turn the situation around unless we recognize where our state stands economically and how we got here. Despite the recent reports of an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, the jobs situation is not ideal.

There is hope and much to like and love about Illinois. The state is blessed with tremendous natural resources and an educated and highly trained and capable workforce. The deep economic struggle we are currently experiencing is unacceptable because you and I know we can do better. As a small business employer and entrepreneur, I know the difficulties weighing down this state’s economy. But I also know the great potential that exists. I purchased and moved a small company from Missouri to Illinois in 2008 because I am confident in Illinois’ future; I know what is possible. But we need to act now to end the policies and practices that have left Illinois with one of the worst records for job creation in recent years.

Unemployment: The rest of the story

Recent media reports have treated us to headlines about a falling unemployment rate for six months in a row. Unfortunately, a troubling fact about the unemployment issue has consistently been left out of most of the news coverage. While the reported 6.7 percent unemployment rate in Illinois is the lowest it has been since August of 2008, a closer look at often ignored jobs numbers reveals a disturbing trend: Fewer people are looking for work and our workforce is shrinking. The table below compares Illinois’ August 2008 workforce to current workforce numbers, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It clearly shows the state’s workforce has dropped by over 164,000 people during this time.



Labor Force

Unemployment Rate

August 2008



August 2014



Change Aug 08’ – Aug 14’




Recently, the governor said, “More people are working today than at any time in the past six years.”

If you look at industry standards for tracking jobs, the “seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll” in August 2014 totaled 5,837,400 jobs. “Seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll” in August of 2008 was 5,952,700 jobs. Using the industry standard for tracking jobs, Illinois has lost 115,300 jobs over the past six years, contradicting the governor’s statement. Again, these are official federally-calculated job figures. As I reported in a recent column and updated for this report, Illinois continues to be the worst performer in job creation among similar population-size states since January of 2009.

Updated information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reveals that under the current business/employer/job climate Illinois continues to lag behind its neighbor states in job creation.

Illinois v. Neighboring States


# Change in Jobs

Jan 2009 – Aug 2014

% Change in Jobs

Jan 2009 – Aug 2014




















Taxes: job killer

We’ve been on the same path of burdening employers with taxes, fees and regulations for a decade. Three and a half years ago, the largest income tax increase in state history was imposed on our entire economy: 45 percent for employers and a whopping 67 percent on workers. The tax hike was one of the worst things to happen to the state’s economy in recent years. There are ways for an employer to manage burdensome rules and regulations by becoming more efficient. However, the tax increase took money directly out of the pockets of employers and the 67 percent increase on individuals equals about a week’s pay. So employees lost, too. It doesn’t make sense for government to take more money out of the private sector and then expect the private sector economy to do better.

If tax increases were the solution to Illinois government’s financial problems we would be one of the most financially healthy states in the Union. Since that tax hike was approved in January of 2011, Illinois government has received about $30 billion ($30,000,000,000) in new revenue, yet the state remains mired in debt that’s reaching insurmountable levels. It’s a burden being left for our children and grandchildren to bear.

A prosperous future

The way out of Illinois’ economic mess is growing our economy, putting people back to work and allowing the private sector to be successful. That means reducing regulations that make it costly for Illinois employers to expand their operations and generate new jobs. Fiscal discipline must be restored by limiting government spending to the level of tax revenue it collects. That will restore confidence and certainty for employers. Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem – remember $30 billion in new tax revenue collected since 2009 – Illinois has a spending problem. State government should stop creating new programs and expanding others at a time when it can’t pay the bills already owed. And programs, not producing results and not achieving what was promised need to be cut. These are common sense steps. These are the same kinds of decisions families and businesses have to make. We should expect no less from our government.

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