Blue-collar jobs struggling in Illinois

A deeper dive into the latest jobs figures reveals a troubling picture for a backbone of Illinois’ economy: blue-collar jobs. Illinois lost 2,200 manufacturing jobs in August alone; 10,000 since the start of the year; and more than 300,000 since the turn of the century.

But that drop is highlighted by a much rosier picture in neighboring states. According to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois is the only Great Lakes state to lose factory jobs over the past three years. As Illinois dropped 13,800 manufacturing jobs, neighboring state Wisconsin gained 15,500, Indiana gained 35,000, and Michigan gained nearly 60,000.

Additionally, Illinois has added only 13,400 payroll jobs in 2015, while Indiana has added 44,900 jobs since January. Job growth figures from surrounding states show an additionally 26,600 jobs were added in Wisconsin, 26,700 jobs in Missouri, and 16,800 jobs were created in Iowa.

The difference in job growth for the region is especially concerning when considering the population differences between the neighboring states. While Iowa only has a reported job growth number of 16,800 for the year, Illinois has more than four times the population size of Iowa and twice as many residents when compared to Wisconsin or Missouri.

Legislative Republicans and the Governor continue to push for business reforms that would help manufacturing jobs, including workers’ compensation and lawsuit reform, as well as property tax reforms that would help businesses considering relocation because of Illinois’ high costs.

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