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Unemployment rate falls to 9.4 percent

Thursday, Mar 1, 2012

* From the Department of Employment Security…

Illinois added 3,800 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell -0.3 to 9.4 percent, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). This is the fifth consecutive monthly decline and the largest decline since September 1992. The data is seasonally adjusted.

“January adds another month in the long-term trend of putting people back to work,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “Adding private sector jobs in 21 of the past 25 months and recording the largest monthly decrease in the unemployment rate in nearly 20 years is progress that people can see.”

Illinois has added +122,900 private sector jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned to Illinois after 23 consecutive months of declines. Since January 2010, leading growth sectors in Illinois are Professional and Business Services (+66,400); Educational and Health Services (+29,700); Manufacturing (+26,000); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+17,800). Government has lost the most jobs since January 2010, down -24,700.

Historically, the national unemployment rate is lower than the state rate. Only seven times since January 2000 has the state rate been lower than the nation’s. That period includes times of economic expansion and contraction. In January 2012, the number of unemployed individuals was down for the fifth consecutive month, decreasing -18,100 (-2.8 percent) to 620,300. Total unemployed has declined ‑132,500 (-17.6 percent) since January 2010 when the state unemployment rate peaked at 11.4 percent. The rate identifies those who are out of work and seeking employment. A person who exhausts benefits, or is ineligible, still will be reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

Educational and health services led the January declines with 5,800 job losses, followed by 3,200 in the “Trade, Transportation, & Utilities” segment. Government jobs fell by 1,900. Top gainers last month were professional and business services (7,700), leisure and hospitality (3,600), financial activities (3,500) and manufacturing (2,700).

* In related news, despite passing a major workers’ compensation reform package last year, House Speaker Michael Madigan thinks a more radical approach may be warranted: A possible privatization of the workers’ comp system

“I was given the number of state workers that had filed workers’ compensation claims and it was an extraordinary number. A very large percentage of the total workforce had filed workers compensation claims,” Madigan said. ”If that is the case then it would be far more efficient to bring in an outside person, and take it out of the hands of the people doing it for the state today.”

Madigan didn’t call his privatization legislation for a vote yesterday, but he and his staff are taking a close look at the idea

State employees’ claims of on-the-job injuries have grabbed headlines, like Menard prison guards getting millions of dollars for wrist injuries. There’s an ongoing federal probe into that. But Madigan’s staff did a study of its own. They compiled claims filed by state workers in prisons, veterans’ homes, and facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. Then compared it with the percentage of claims filed by employees of private nursing homes and hospitals.

According to the Speaker’s top legislative aide, the gap between the two was substantial.

“My concern is that there’s just a culture or an environment among some, some state workers, that would encourage work comp claims when they’re really not warranted,” Madigan said.

* And Gov. Pat Quinn crowed about an improved business ranking by the state today via press release

Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the state of Illinois and Chicago have been named among the top 10 locations for new and expanded corporate facilities. Illinois ranked seventh among states, an improvement over last year’s eighth place ranking, and Chicago second in the metropolitan areas category in the annual analysis by Site Selection magazine, one of the nation’s premier corporate real estate and economic development publications. […]

In 2011, Illinois had 216 corporate facilities locate or expand in the state. Illinois joins Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia on the list of the top ten states with the most locations and expansions. With 167 projects, the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area ranked second on the list of cities in the tier one, top ten metropolitan areas list. Illinois companies that have relocated or seen significant expansions this year include Ford, Motorola Mobility, Continental, FedEx, Chrysler and Mitsubishi, among others.

From the magazine

Site Selection’s Governor’s Cup ranks the 50 states according to their success in attracting capital investment projects that meet one or more of these three criteria: a minimum investment of US$1 million, creation of 50 or more new jobs and new facility construction or floor space of at least 20,000 sq. ft. (1,860 sq. m.). The magazine does not count equipment upgrades or additions nor construction jobs in its final numbers.

Despite the 7th place finish, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania’s new projects were more than double Illinois’.

The Chicago area, however, finished second in the nation for large metropolitan regions, behind Houston and ahead of Pittsburgh.

* Related…

* ADDED: Legislation aimed at Cellini management deals

* ADDED: Proposal would get abandoned houses back on market quicker

* Quinn lifts hold on Illinois hospital tax rulings: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is sticking to his deadline and authorizing the Department of Revenue to resume decisions that could strip some nonprofit hospitals of valuable tax exemptions. At least 17 Illinois hospitals and health systems are awaiting decisions on the tax-exempt status of property.

* Gov. Quinn lifts moratorium on state review of hospital property taxes: Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday drew a hard line on negotiations with the state’s hospitals over how much free care they must provide to qualify for tax breaks, lifting a moratorium on the Department of Revenue’s review of hospitals seeking charity-care exemptions on their property taxes… “While the department expects to move promptly on pending applications, it will continue to support the governor’s efforts to work with hospitals, patient and community advocates and local governments to find a long-term meaningful solution that meets Illinois’ Constitutional mandate,” the statement said.

* Statement from President Preckwinkle on Governor Quinn’s decision to resume the decision-making process regarding hospitals seeking property tax exemptions based on charity care: “I want to commend the Governor’s decision today. This is an important public health issue that impacts many of our most vulnerable citizens. I look forward to continuing to work on a negotiated bill on Charity Care and hospital tax exemptions with all interested parties.”

* Peotone airport group decides to have some fun, but remains hopeful: On the agenda of the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission board session: a resolution to name the first passenger terminal after late Northwest suburban Congressman Henry Hyde and the proposed airport’s entrance after Bensenville’s former mayor, the late John Geils, and Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson.

* Rahm’s jobs plan is real; but is it big enough?

* City’s NATO/G8 chief has some advice: Chill out, already

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Truthteller - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 12:20 pm:

    Perhaps the reason so many state employee claims get approved is because the lawyer’s defending the state in hearings before arbitrators, commissioners and the courts are not doing a good job.
    Maybe the Speaker should require the AG, whose office currently defends the state, to contract out the work.
    Or maybe the claims are legit, and the state needs to work on making the workplace safer.

  2. - East Sider - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    –despite passing a major workers’ compensation reform package last year, House Speaker Michael Madigan thinks a more radical approach may be warranted–

    The GOP & business leaders have been demanding this for years…and now I’m sure Madigan will accept all of the credit for this “idea”. We’re in the top 3 in the nation for highest workers’ compensation costs. It would be nice if we could actually get some reform that isn’t completely watered down like the faux-reform that passed last year.

  3. - Shore - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 12:31 pm:

    Lori Healy was last seen telling us how the Olympic bid was chicago’s to lose and how the city was going to get it. Oops. She and Rahm have no idea what’s going to happen in May.

    This line was priceless

    “Ms. Healey, concluded, things are going so well that she hopes to spend some time that weekend with the King of Tonga. ”

    I’m glad the city is focused on real tough issues.

  4. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 12:47 pm:

    Healy’s remarks remind me of Kevin Bacon’s character in Animal House as the riot tore through town: “All is well. All is well.”

    After which he was subsequently flattened by the mob.

  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 12:57 pm:

    I guess Mitch, Walker and Christie won’t be holding press conferences on how they’re taking Illinois businesses.

    For the record, from Site Selection, on new facility and expansion projects in 2011 worth at least $1 million and creating at least 50 jobs:

    Illinois: 216
    Indiana: 141
    New Jersey: 76
    Wisconsin: 57

  6. - Fed up - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    Hmm I wonder of anyone will just come right out and say it is obvious that Lisa Madigan is not up to the job of representing the state of Illinois in these workers comp claims. This fraud and abuse is costing taxpayers millions. Meanwhile Lisa is standing out side a payday loan store smiling just waiting for someone to take her picture and say what a swell job she is doing.

  7. - Don't Worry About the Government - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics quit counting the 2.8 million discouraged American workers who want employment but can’t find it and have given up looking.

    Apparently they aren’t unemployed anymore.

  8. - reformer - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:17 pm:

    A declining unemployment rate
    Top ten ranking for new and expanded corporate facilities
    These are inconvenient truths for Republicans, who depict their state as an economic hellhole thanks to Democratic rule.

  9. - anonymice - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    ==Illinois: 216
    Indiana: 141
    New Jersey: 76
    Wisconsin: 57 ==

    So Indiana, with only 50% of our population, has generated managed to generate big projects equal to 65% of ours? I guess we showed them! How would the comparison look if we also take into account that a 50 employee/$1m investment project is a relatively bigger deal to Indiana than it is to Illinois?

  10. - Honestly - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    Speaker Madigan’s announced suspicion of injured state workers panders to popular bigotry against public employees. While Speaker Madigan blames state workers, he ignores the culture of problematic state agency management. Top management at state agencies often reject their stated missions, behave unethically, and treat their best employees with hostility.
    In case after case, the Governor nominates, the legislature confirms, and the Attorney General defends unruly state agency heads. The Governor, Attorney General, and legislature have created many problems by providing support for belligerent agency directors and their deputies. Thanks to misguided Illinois policymakers like Quinn and the Madigans, we are left with unhealthy workplaces. Rather than blaming their victims, these Illinois government bigshots should stop hurting their own workers.

  11. - Nice Kid - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    Is Jackson going out of his way to offend Will County?

  12. - reformer - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 1:30 pm:

    IL ranks 7th, while IN didn’t make the top ten.

    Daniels’ plan to make IN the center of electric cars has crumbled.

    IN allows its counties to impose an income tax. If IN is a model state, should we emulate that policy?

  13. - jerry 101 - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 2:04 pm:

    reformer - you can always count on a republican to find a black lining on a silver cloud - hence, anonymice’s comment.

    At the end of the day, we shouldn’t just root for Illinois’ success, we should be rooting for Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, etc to all succeed, and the entire country really. We’re part of a region, and that region’s part of a country. We shouldn’t be playing a zero sum game - if one state in the region succeeds by poaching a bunch of business from another state, well, that may benefit that poaching state in the short run, but everyone loses in the long run. And, today’s poacher may be tomorrow’s poachee.

    Just remember how much poaching Illinois was doing a few years ago when we brought Boeing and MillerCoors amongst others to Chicago.

    And that said, there’s some nice schadenfreude in sticking it to Daniels or Walker (or Christie). They run their mouths and act like a bunch of jerks, it’s good to see them lose. Of course, it sucks for the people in their states who suffer due to their behavior.

  14. - mokenavince - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    It’ nice to see unemployment go down, lets work on
    it till it’s under 5%.How how about making more cuts in the workers comp act, it’s still in the top 3. That would sure help small business.

  15. - Pat Collins - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 3:15 pm:

    Ha ha ha. Motora Mobility LAID OFF some 200 people last Nov.

    Do they count the spin off from MOT as “expansion”??

    Maybe Christy only counts an expansion where more people are working after it, than before it!!

  16. - mark walker - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 3:44 pm:

    East Sider — Don’t worry, Madigan never gets any credit for any of the good things he helps get done, and is blamed for all of the bad that occurs anywhere. Just a fact of Illinois political life.

    I think he’s on to something here.

  17. - Colossus - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 3:46 pm:

    Wow. I risked (metaphorical) life and limb this afternoon to read the comments section on about the Arpaio shenanigans. I thought I’d come back here to remind me there are folks who will intelligently and constructively bring their views to the table.

    I apparently picked the wrong thread.

    “Throw out the Dems!”
    “Reform workers’ comp!”
    “It’s the agency heads!”
    “The numbers are cooked!”

    Simplicity and Bigfoot are found in nature with the same frequency. There are no magic bullets, people. Hard work and willingness to compromise for the benefit of everyone (and not just those who vote for/with you) is what fixes things, not bumper sticker slogans.

  18. - RichardtheLionHearted - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 5:01 pm:

    Why anyone would risk their capital in Illinois is beyond me. Perhaps it is the same reason I started a business 12 years ago in Illinois. Illinois is our home and I don’t want to move, despite a horrific political environment. Businesses need an escape plan when the libs try to tax us more when it is time to pay the 80 billion in unfunded liabilities.

    I wonder how many of these projects are agribusiness related? Quinnovich benefits from the fact you can’t move farmland.

  19. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 6:09 pm:

    - Businesses need an escape plan when the libs try to tax us more when it is time to pay the 80 billion in unfunded liabilities. -

    Why wait? I’ll come help you move right now, just let me know when and where. Illinois doesn’t need petulant whiners who compare a decent person like Pat Quinn to a convicted felon.

  20. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 7:08 pm:

    Anonymouse, hey, I love it when my high school vies for a state basketball championship too, but it ain’t exactly the NBA finals. And that is the difference between IL and IND. They have half our population for a reason.

  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 8:29 pm:

    With all due respect, comparing injury rates for mental health facilities to nursing homes is apples to bananas.

    A better comparison is Illinois to similar facilities in other states with similar work comp rules.

    All of that data is available online through the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    BTW, this is yet another example of where a better partnership between government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector would be helpful.

    Caterpillar and other Illinois companies are international leaders in improving workplace safety.

    CAT dramatically reduced their workplace injury rate in three years just by making worker safety a goal — no legislation required.

    And Underwriters Laboratories, the Northbrook-based nonprofit, is an international leader in workplace safety. Their UL label is everywhere for a reason: they are geniuses. But they weren’t created by statute.

    We love proposing legislation, opposing legislation, but not every problem requires a legislative solution.

    Although the government staff, lobbyists on both sides, p.r. consultants, campaign consultants, media, advertising companies, advocacy groups, etc. are all part of an economy that feeds off of new bills. On both sides of the aisle.

    But sometimes all you need is a little outside-the-box thinking. Trust me, there will be plenty of problems that STILL require legislation to put food on everyone’s table.

  22. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Mar 1, 12 @ 8:40 pm:

    Yellow Dog,
    Please stop. You are inserting logic and reason. I fear for your safety.

  23. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Mar 2, 12 @ 8:00 am:


    Thanks Michelle.

    Seriously, after Caterpillar issued their letter, I actually read their Annual Sustainability report. I come from a union background and support the rights of injured workers, but someone from my side of the aisle ought to acknowledge that Caterpillar has dramatically reduced worker injuries.

    Without legislation.

    And then we ought to figure out why every manufacturer in Illinois isnt doing what Caterpillar is doing.

    Because the easiest, surest way to reduce work comp costs is to reduce injuries.

  24. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 2, 12 @ 8:41 am:

    Returning veterans are in need of jobs that have sustainable income along with advancement within a particular field or sector. One important area that is overlooked is the 600,000+ jobs USA based companies outsourced oversees. These jobs are primarily high-tech and/or high-end support of a particular product or service. We should ask all USA based companies who outsource to bring a minimum of 10% of these jobs back to the USA and hire veterans. With all the credits available on a state and national level this would have a minimum impact.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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