Illinois Loses 80,000 Workers in One Year

Illinois Loses 80,000 Workers in One Year

President Barack Obama’s home state, which has been governed by Democrats throughout his national political career, has slipped in the rankings and now has the third-worst unemployment rate in the nation. Though the jobless rate was the same in December 2013 (8.6%) as in December 2012, the state’s labor force declined by a staggering 80,000 workers, according to Michael Lucci of the Illinois Policy Institute.

Across the same period, the national unemployment rate fell by 1.3%–though that, too, was partly driven by an exodus of workers from the labor force, albeit less dramatic than in Illinois. Lucci observes: ‘The state now suffers from its worst labor force participation rate since June 1978. It has been nearly 36 years since such a small percent of the working-age population in Illinois found it worthwhile to search for work.”

In terms of policy, Illinois represents utopia, at least in Obama’s imagination: high taxes, high regulation, high levels of (mandatory) union membership, and one-party rule. Yet the state is a financial failure and remains in economic free-fall, as hundreds of thousands of residents leave the state (often for more conservative, growth-friendly states). A recent pension reform bill will have only modest effects on the state’s unfunded liabilities.


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