CHICAGO — As 2015 gets started, Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday highlighted Illinois’ strong economic recovery.
In 2014, the state’s economy significantly improved, with unemployment down and job creation up across Illinois.
“When I took office on January 29, 2009, the Illinois economy was in a deep recession. Today, our economy is significantly stronger,” Quinn said. “Our work to make the tough decisions, invest in a 21st century transportation infrastructure and responsibly cut the cost of doing business in our state is getting the job done. This past year saw historic drops in our unemployment rate as more men and women are getting back to work across the state.”
The Illinois unemployment rate stands at 6.4 percent — its lowest level since June 2008. In November 2014, unemployment rates fell in every region of Illinois for the eighth consecutive month to a six- or seven-year low. Illinois has led the nation for five straight months with the sharpest over-the-year drop in the unemployment rate.
Since the start of 2014, 166,000 more people across Illinois are back on the job. Employers have added 298,700 private sector jobs since February 2010.
When Quinn took office, he inherited a financial crisis and the worst recession since the Great Depression. Since then, he has driven economic growth by putting the state on more solid financial footing, cutting state spending by billions of dollars and achieving historic reforms to pensions and Medicaid. These tough actions have won praise from all three credit agencies and helped stabilize the state’s finances.
Quinn made it a priority to reform workers’ compensation and worked with business owners and legislators to make it easier to do business in Illinois. The result in 2014 was significant savings in workers’ compensation costs, which dropped 19.3 percent in Illinois after the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) lowered its advisory rate for 2015 by 5.5 percent in July.
The drop, attributed by NCCI to the passage of Quinn’s historic workers’ compensation reform in 2011, has led to a 19 percent reduction in the cost of claims paid by insurers and has contributed to a 15 percent decrease in pure premium insurance rates. An independent research bureau that analyzes nationwide workers compensation data, NCCI’s advisory rates determine the premiums businesses pay for workers’ compensation insurance.
In October, a national study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services showed Illinois led the nation in workers’ compensation insurance savings over the last two years. The biennial study, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia by the amount insurance premiums rose or dropped in the last two years, shows Illinois employers workers’ compensation premiums dropped from $2.83 per $100 of payroll in 2012 to $2.35 in 2014. The result is hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for Illinois businesses.
In addition, Quinn enacted legislation in 2011 to reform unemployment insurance that creates tools to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the temporary assistance program. The result is tax savings for nearly half of employers in Illinois in 2015. The savings allows companies to use the additional money to invest back into their company and create new jobs. The reform is expected to save Illinois businesses more than $400 million over eight years.
Quinn successfully secured and implemented the largest public works program in Illinois history, the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, which supported more than 400,000 jobs and built and repaired roads, schools and bridges across the state.
Under Quinn’s leadership, key sectors of the Illinois economy are performing at close to record levels, including tourism, exports and the film industry.
The governor has aggressively recruited new businesses and jobs to Illinois including eBay, Zurich Insurance, Federal Savings Bank, Weber-Stephen Products, Amazon.com and Cronus Fertilizer in 2014 alone. These companies are bringing thousands of new jobs and investing billions into the state’s economy.
He has also expanded Illinois’ innovation and technology sectors through investments in 1871 and MATTER, technology hubs that have created more than 1,000 new jobs in two years. In 2014, Quinn invested $16 million to launch the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute on Chicago’s Goose Island. The institute is a venture of UI Labs that will connect manufacturers to the latest tools and knowledge.
The respected University of Illinois Flash Index, which measures growth in the state economy, has risen for four consecutive months and stands at 106.6, close to a record high.