Illinois is the fifth-largest industrial state and we are home to numerous dynamic, successful businesses and institutions that comprise a diverse economy. But our record on job creation has been poor, even long before the economic recession settled in. Illinois' unemployment rate is among the worst in the nation. In a 2009 report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, Illinois ranked 48th in the nation in terms of job creation. Our state has shed over 52,000 manufacturing jobs alone over the past year as more than 700 manufacturing firms have shut their doors.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce recognizes that the strength of the state’s economy and ability of its workforce to compete on a global scale rests on the quality of the state’s education system. The state and the business community fail when students are not challenged to succeed. The Illinois Chamber believes we should build a stronger compact between employers and educators so we are preparing our children for the jobs of today and tomorrow – whether that job demands a college education, a graduate degree, skills training in community or technical colleges, high school degree or union apprenticeships.
United States is facing the worst economic challenges since the Great Depression and Illinois is faring worse than most. A new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council ranks our economic performance among the ten worst states in the country and our unemployment rate of 11% exceeds the national average.
Illinois employers spend approximately $25 billion annually for health care benefits. While the cost of health care is important, employers and consumers must be able to expect quality health care from medical providers and their health plans. Healthy employees are productive employees. With quality and efficiency improvements, Illinois will be better postured to increase access to health care coverage. Without such improvements, the number of uninsured will increase and Illinois will be a decreasingly attractive state for businesses to locate.
Illinois’ transportation system plays a pivotal role in the nation’s ability to move goods and people because of its geographic location and extensive road, rail, airport and waterway network. It also serves as a critical factor in maintaining the current and future economic vitality of the state.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is an established gateway to the world. The concentration of foreign consulates and ethnic diversity of Chicago are indicative of a world-class city. Measured by container cargo traffic alone, Chicago is ranked the second busiest port in the world.
In order to stimulate growth and attract new jobs to Illinois, the state must significantly improve its business tax climate. The non-partisan Tax Foundation gave Illinois dismal marks for its high sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes, which ultimately culminated in a state business tax climate ranking of 30th in the nation- a drop of seven slots from the previous fiscal year.
Illinois’ legal climate is one of the worst in the nation, ranking 46th out of 50 states for lawsuit abuse, according to Lawsuit Climate 2008: Ranking the States – an annual Harris Interactive Survey conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. In addition, Cook County was named the second least fair and reasonable litigation environments in the nation.
Workers’ compensation in Illinois is in dire need of reform. Illinois’ workers compensation costs are the 11th highest in the nation, up from 21st in the nation just 3 years ago. Furthermore, the state’s workers’ compensation costs are far higher than surrounding states, which means Illinois is growing more susceptible to losing jobs to bordering states where companies can find relief from these increasing costs.
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