A recent report by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) indicates a slight drop in the state’s unemployment from 5.0% to 4.9%. It’s not a huge change, but does represent an increase of 3,400 nonfarm payroll jobs. IDES adds that September job growth figures were revised upward showing a smaller decline in jobs, -7,900 rather than the -10,800 jobs initially reported.
While it’s obvious job growth is not what it should be, agency Director Jeff Mays pointed to important trend: “Illinois’ unemployment rate remained at 5.0 percent or lower for eight months – the last time that happened was in mid-2007,” said Mays.
There also were positive comments included in the IDES report by the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “The Department continues to see a steady flow of interest from businesses to relocate and grow in Illinois,” said Director Sean McCarthy. “With our world-class assets, Illinois should be leading the pack not lagging behind the national average. We’re seeing results and winning projects, but we still have work to do.”
2017 has been a frustrating year for Senate Republican efforts to revitalize the state’s business/jobs climate. The Caucus continues to push for reforms such as property tax relief, workers’ compensation changes that lower hiring costs, and reducing government and business regulations that divert financial resources away from business expansion. Unfortunately, Democrat leaders’ cooperation on business climate issues this year has been limited.
A small but important victory
In other news, one positive legislative victory this year was the bipartisan support for the extension of the state’s EDGE program, short for Economic Development for a Growing Economy. The program has been cited in the past by industry publications as an important tool for business expansion and job creation. EDGE was created in 1999 and is the state’s primary jobs incentive program. It’s credited with creating nearly 34,000 jobs and retaining another 46,000 since its inception. The extension was signed into law in August and keeps EDGE in place until June 2020.
The Illinois economy is closely linked to the state’s overall fiscal health. It has closely tracked side-by-side with its struggling economy. Growing the economy and providing opportunity and prosperity for working families is the best long-term way back to fiscal good health. Senate Republicans will renew their efforts to foster economic growth in the coming year.