Illinois’ economic comeback continues; unemployment rate falls to lowest level in more than six years
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn said Thursday that Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in more than six years. Last month the state’s jobless rate fell to 6.4 percent, its lowest point since June 2008 and lower than when Quinn took office, according to a news release. In addition, the state added 2,300 jobs in November, for a total gain of about 300,000 jobs since the economic recovery started in February 2010.
“Our economy is continuing to grow and create more jobs, and that’s good news this holiday season,” Quinn said. “Illinois’ improving economy is a reflection of the tough decisions we’ve made over the last six years.”
Since taking office in 2009, Quinn has enacted major reforms to lower the cost of worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance. He has also achieved unprecedented reforms in pensions and Medicaid, while slashing state spending to historic lows, according to his office.
There has been progress in Illinois’ manufacturing sector, a core part of the economy that supports service jobs and goods that are shipped worldwide. The governor invested $16 million to launch the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute on Chicago’s Goose Island. The institute is a venture of UI Labs that will connect manufacturers to the latest tools and knowledge.
Other major Illinois businesses have thrived such as Chrysler’s Belvidere plant, where the job total has gone from 200 to 4,500 since Quinn took office. Over the same period at Ford’s plant on the South Side of Chicago, operations have grown from one shift and 1,600 workers to three shifts and 5,100 workers.
When it comes to Illinois’ entrepreneurship community, Quinn has invested $8.8 million to assist the 1871 technology incubator and the MATTER medical technology hub, both in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. In its first two years, 1871 and its spinoff companies have accounted for more than 1,000 new jobs.
Quinn’s administration has recruited businesses to Illinois and negotiated agreements involving hundreds of new jobs with companies such as eBay, the Federal Savings Bank, MillerCoors and Nippon Sharyo USA. It was announced in October that Amazon.com was shipping to Illinois and creating 1,000 new jobs and a $75 million investment in the state.
The state’s comeback has been highlighted from numerous publications and research organizations such as Site Selection magazine, which in 2013 named Illinois third among the states in its number of corporate relocations and expansions. Illinois has also continued to lead the Midwest in net business growth. In addition, the University of Illinois Flash Index rose again in November to 106.6, up for the fourth straight month. The index is a weighted average of Illinois growth across corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.
Illinois worker’s wages are currently the ninth-highest in the country, outranking all neighboring states. Wage growth is one of the key indicators in judging economic growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.