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Illinois Had The Worst Personal Income Growth In The U.S. Over The Past Decade

Submitted by Austin Berg, of IllinoisPolicy.org

Illinois’ jobs growth was worse than every neighboring state, and half the neighboring state average from June 2016 to June 2017, according to a new report. Data released July 27 by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES, reveals Illinois’ jobs growth from June 2016 to June 2017 was 0.9 percent, compared with a national average of 1.5 percent.

The greater Chicago area fared far better than the rest of Illinois with 1.2 percent jobs growth, but still lagged behind the national average. The rest of the state saw just 0.2 percent jobs growth.

The new IDES release also contained data by metropolitan statistical area, or MSA. Of Illinois’ 14 MSAs, eight saw jobs growth of less than 1 percent. Only five of Illinois’ MSAs saw jobs growth higher than the national average: Springfield, Kankakee, Lake County-Kenosha County, Bloomington and Carbondale-Marion.

The Decatur MSA experienced no jobs growth over the year. Rockford and Danville each lost 200 jobs over the year, on net.

The IDES data underscore a lack of economic reforms in the budget passed by state lawmakers earlier this month, which included the largest permanent income tax hike in state history.

Take Decatur, for example. Moody’s Analytics revealed earlier this year that the former manufacturing titan was one of four Illinois metro areas where the recession recovery was at risk of “coming undone.” Researchers also included Danville on that list.

Decatur residents are in dire need of healthier incomes. Even the hope of decent jobs growth would be a vast improvement.

Instead, the tax hike will force the average Decatur resident to send $580 more each year to state government, according to the Decatur Herald & Review. That’s money that could have been spent locally at struggling small businesses, put toward college savings or spent on household essentials. Instead, it will vanish into Springfield’s sinkhole of debt.

Illinois’ sickly economy doesn’t just show itself in poor jobs numbers, but in paychecks as well. The Land of Lincoln is home to the worst personal income growth in the United States over the Great Recession era.

Illinois’ lawmakers have failed to pass the pro-growth reforms from which neighboring states are reaping benefits. Take property taxes, which are higher in Illinois than in every state with no income tax at all.

Neighboring Wisconsin’s property taxes as a percentage of personal income are the lowest the state’s seen since the end of World War II. Illinois property taxes are nearly triple those in neighboring Indiana. But reforms to address the cost-drivers of Illinois property taxes have been stonewalled in the General Assembly.

Illinois is also home to the costliest workers’ compensation system in the region, yet serious efforts at reform have gone untouched by legislative leaders. And as neighboring states such as Missouri are on the path to income tax cuts, Illinois lawmakers passed a 32 percent income tax increase.

Until lawmakers get serious about economic growth, don’t expect Illinois’ jobs trend to diverge from the weak path it’s been treading for years.