* 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.
* 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