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Afternoon roundup

Thursday, Mar 16, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller


The unemployment rate decreased in all fourteen Illinois metropolitan areas in January according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Jobs were up in all metro areas except one. […]

The metro areas which had the largest over-the-year percentage increases in total nonfarm jobs were the Peoria MSA (4.2%, +6,900), the Springfield MSA (+3.6%, +3,800) and the Rockford MSA (+3.5%, +4,900). Total nonfarm jobs in the Chicago Metropolitan Division were up +2.7% or +99,300. Total nonfarm jobs were down slightly in the Illinois section of the St. Louis MSA (-0.3%, -800). Industries that saw job growth in a majority of metro areas included: Leisure and Hospitality (fourteen areas); Mining and Construction and Education and Health Services (thirteen areas each); Other Services (twelve areas); Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade and Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities (eleven areas each); and Government (nine areas).

The metro areas with the largest unemployment rate decreases were in the Rockford MSA (-2.5 points to 5.8%), the Decatur MSA (-1.6 points to 5.4%), and the Carbondale-Marion MSA (-1.1 points to 4.3%). The Chicago Metropolitan Division unemployment rate decreased -0.5 point to 4.7%. The unemployment rate decreased over-the-year in 98 counties, increased in 3 and was unchanged in 1.

* Capitol News Illinois

Officials with the state’s largest transit agencies met with lawmakers on Tuesday to sound the alarm for what Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Leanne Redden called a “looming operational crisis.”

“By 2026, the region will face an annual budget deficit of nearly $730 million per year,” Redden told lawmakers. “That’s nearly 20 percent of our operating revenue.” […]

The number of passenger trips on the three Chicagoland transit systems was down last year to 50.5 percent of what it was in 2019, according to data from RTA. […]

State law requires that approximately half of the RTA’s revenues come from rider fares, but in recent years the agency has gotten statutory exemptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Redden told lawmakers that since 2020, fares have only made up “about 20 percent” of the needed revenue to operate the system.”

The RTA eventually will need a change in state law that stops the requirement that 50 percent of revenues come from fares,” RTA Board Chair Kirk Dillard said. “It’s an unsustainable funding model post-COVID.”

* Capitol News Illinois solicited Republican leadership responses to Gov. Pritzker’s suggestion that if revenues are deemed stable, tax cuts could be possible

“To hear the governor mention any tax cuts is an exciting prospect for families across our state. At the first meeting I had with Gov. Pritzker, we discussed the cumbersome franchise tax on small businesses and high estate taxes that unfairly target family farms,” [House Minority Leader Tony McCombie] said. “The governor recognizing conversations with Democrats and Republicans gives me hope that we will reinstitute the bipartisan budget working group with our budgeteers and appropriation teams leading the way.” […]

Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, referred to business-related tax incentives that Pritzker and lawmakers approved on bipartisan lines in 2019 but which Democrats froze in future budget years.

“Initial discussions on tax relief have been receptive,” Curran said in a statement. “We will continue to call for implementing the business incentives that the governor agreed to in the Blue Collar Jobs Act, along with additional tax relief for Illinois families and small businesses.”

He said the Senate GOP is hopeful Pritzker will “include Republicans at the table of substantive budget meetings,” and they are “willing to negotiate in good faith.”


A group of Illinois House Republicans say too many businesses are leaving the state. The House GOP members are now renewing calls for the General Assembly to discuss common sense business reforms.

Two representatives from the Rockford region explained Wednesday that people in their districts are struggling to get by after a Jeep assembly plant shut down indefinitely. That announcement came the same day Stellantis announced thousands of new jobs opening at a plant in Indiana. […]

Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) noted that the state should also have protections for workers who lose their job when a company like Akorn announces an immediate closure. Cabello said state lawmakers should act as a safety net for workers of any business that shuts down in order to help rebuild a strong business environment.

“We don’t have to be smart about this at all,” Cabello said. “We can just take what Indiana has done in the last 10 years, take all the bills that they have passed in Indiana, implement them here, and we’re going to be already in a different trajectory. The General Assembly is failing at their job.”

* More, please…

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today that the state is launching a $29.6 million program to distribute more than 60,000 HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers to Illinois schools to help reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

IDPH is coordinating the program with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The program is funded by the CDC through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and is targeted for school districts that serve lower income communities and counties that have elevated air pollution counts. IDPH estimates almost 3,000 schools will be eligible for the program, covering 68 percent of school districts in the state. It will cover schools throughout the state, including Cook County, with the exception of Chicago, which has received a separate federal grant.

We could use some of those in the Capitol Complex hearing rooms, too, btw.

* Pro-gunners win another battle. Here’s AG Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of attorneys general from across the nation, today condemned four of the world’s largest credit card companies – Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Discover – for walking back their commitment to implement a new merchant code for gun sales that would help prevent mass shootings and curb gun violence.

In October, Raoul expressed support after Visa, American Express and Mastercard publicly announced plans to add a new merchant code for gun retailers to the hundreds already used to categorize merchant sales. The creation of the new code had been approved in September by the Switzerland-based International Organization for Standardization to allow financial institutions to better detect and report suspicious activities related to the purchase of firearms and ammunition at standalone gun retail stores. In February 2023, Discover announced that it too would begin using the new code.

But in an abrupt about-face last week, all four companies announced they would not implement the code, citing legislation in several states seeking to bar or limit the use of the voluntary code as a supposed incursion on Second Amendment rights. In a letter sent to the chief executives of Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Discover today, Raoul and 14 attorneys general accused the companies of capitulating to political pressure cloaked in specious legal arguments and amorphous veiled threats from certain state attorneys general.

“As state attorneys general, we are committed to enhancing public safety, and we welcomed Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Discover to that effort when the companies announced plans to add a new merchant code for gun retailers. Doing so would have given law enforcement an important new tool in addressing gun violence,” Raoul said. “I am disappointed that these same companies are now caving to political pressure and reversing course. I urge them to follow through with a merchant category for gun stores – which already exist for numerous everyday items – to help law enforcement identify unlawful transactions.” […]

The letter points out that enabling financial institutions to detect and flag threatening patterns and potential criminal activity for law enforcement is nothing new, as they have been doing it for decades. For instance, federal law requires Suspicious Activity Reports when banks “detect a known or suspected violation of Federal law or a suspicious transaction related to a money laundering activity or a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act,” the letter states. The letter asserts that state and federal law enforcement agencies often request evidence relating to firearms or other investigations. However, the ability of financial institutions or law enforcement to take steps against criminal gun purchases is hampered by the lack of a dedicated code for firearm and ammunition retailers.

* The governor was in Joliet today…

Today, Governor JB Pritzker joined Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, state officials, and community leaders at Joliet Community College (JCC) to highlight his proposed investments in higher education. The Governor’s FY24 budget calls for the largest increase for community colleges in over two decades and historic investments in financial aid, putting Illinois on track to guarantee every student has access to the education and training they need to thrive.

Nobody asked him any questions

* Do you ever do these brackets?…

* Isabel’s roundup…


  1. - Jibba - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 2:36 pm:

    high estate taxes that unfairly target family farms
    “We don’t have to be smart about this at all,”
    “willing to negotiate in good faith.”

    I’m not sure which of these to nominate as the least credible.

  2. - Stuck in Celliniland - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 2:46 pm:

    ==Officials don’t know how road closures will impact access to the Shedd during what’s usually one of its busiest weekends.==

    All the more reason that whomever wins Mayor needs to cancel the NASCAR race on short notice on Day 1. Regardless of the risk to the city.

  3. - SAP - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 2:54 pm:

    Illinois to win it all? What a meatball.

  4. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 2:59 pm:

    Can’t believe he didn’t have IL vs. NU in the Elite 8. If you’re going to be a homer, go full homer.

  5. - Stuck in Celliniland - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:01 pm:

    == Gov. Pritzker’s suggestion that if revenues are deemed stable, tax cuts could be possible…==

    ==Officials with the state’s largest transit agencies met with lawmakers on Tuesday to sound the alarm for what Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Leanne Redden called a “looming operational crisis.”==

    One more reason that this is not the time for tax cuts.

  6. - Give Us Barabbas - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:07 pm:

    It’s painful to see zero TV, Radio or Print journalists come out to the Governor’s press conferences in these smaller markets. There’s blame to go around. Print organs are barely clinging to life, so no staff available for a political beat reporter. Local TV is also exceedingly cheap these days, often making the reporter do their own camera work as well. And, being understaffed, they rely on press releases and official media releases, so they can be somewhere else, covering another story, instead of asking the Governor hard and necessary questions. They go off to find another story. Which these days in local media, seems to only really be about local school sports and car wrecks. It’s why local TV news has become unwatchable, and radio news, just as bad. All I can stand any more is NPR/ IPR, and how come none of their folks attended this? When I was a puppy in J-school you’d give a limb for such access, and it’s wasted now.

  7. - 48th Ward Heel - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:12 pm:

    “We don’t have to be smart about this at all, we can just take what Indiana has done in the last ten years” is my favorite take of the week

  8. - jackmac - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:14 pm:

    Sorry J.B., but your men’s bracket is going to crash pretty quickly. I get that Illinois may be a heart over head pick, but national champs is a pretty big stretch. And if you wanted to make a neighborhood pick in the women’s bracket, Iowa vs. Indiana in the final would have been the better choice than Duke. Good luck anyway.

  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:28 pm:

    JB could not find the SFC with a GPS. What a tool.

  10. - We've never had one before - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:39 pm:

    >>>> walking back their commitment to implement a new merchant code for gun sales

    It’s a merchant code for gun /stores/, not gun /sales/. It’s meaningless and serves to intimidate gun owners. And it discriminates against the smaller stores, cuz big box stores that also sell guns get to use two or more codes.

    Gun owners who don’t like the tracking code idea will just pay cash. Bad guys don’t care either way, they are not buying their guns at a gun store.

    Yes, ISO is the sanctioning body, but Priscilla Sims Brown, CEO of Amalgamated Bank was the one to come up with and push the idea.

  11. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:45 pm:

    [Sarcasm font on] How long has Drury waited for this day?

    [Sarcasm font off] If a leader removing / demoting a caucus member from a committee who opposes them is a crime, when are the Feds going after Mitch McConnell for what he did to Rick Scott?

  12. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:49 pm:

    we are committed to enhancing public safety,

    Having a ici code track all purchases at gun stores/ranges is not only problematic in terms of constitutionality- it also does nothing to enhance safety. Go to any gun store/range and many merchant transactions are for non firearms/ammo items - That would include paying for range time, targets, ear protection, classes, clothing….

  13. - Leslie K - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 3:53 pm:

    Regarding NASCAR/Shedd, revenue losses are bad enough, but there has also been concern about what the noise/vibration will do to the Art Institute collections. The Shedd is further away, but how horrible if it impacts the animals.

  14. - City Guy - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 4:26 pm:

    I really don’t understand the NASCAR race. First the negatives. The City will need to close down parts of Lake Shore Drive, Roosevelt, Columbus, Michigan Ave, Jackson, and Balbo for the race. With the surrounding high-rises, the noise will be deafening. There are concerns on impact of the noise and vibrations on the Shedd’s fishes. There are also concerns about the impact on the Shedd’s attendance and revenues. I did a quick google that indicates there are an average of 6 crashes per NASCAR race. With an unusual untested track, I could see more accidents occurring.

    So what are the positives that outweigh the negatives? I don’t know. While it will bring in a bunch of tourists it will be at a time when Chicago is normally at full capacity. Its not like it will be in late January when hotels have excess capacity. Likewise, it is located in the center of the City, not in the neighborhoods which might benefit from tourists. The City may be getting a big check from NASCAR, but I bet it doesn’t cover all the police OT and other costs.

  15. - Very old soil - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 4:58 pm:

    Illinois down by 5. 15 minutes left

  16. - Very old soil - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 5:04 pm:

    Now down 15. Sorry governor

  17. - Jibba - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 5:09 pm:

    Illinois to win? Good thing he’s already rich.

  18. - Big Dipper - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 5:43 pm:

    According to his LinkedIn, the lottery employee who got busted for theft has also substitute taught in a Springfield school district for years.

  19. - Just Me 2 - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 7:59 pm:

    Re: RTA — if fare revenue has dropped so much that tells me fewer people are riding. So why don’t they reduce the service to meet current demand? Exempting the 50% rule should be a non-starter.

  20. - West Side the Best Side - Thursday, Mar 16, 23 @ 10:39 pm:

    Assuming people come to see NASCAR, does anyone really think those Bubbas are going to be interested in going to places like Shedd or the Art Institute?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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