By Andrew Thomason
Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The extent of Illinois’ job loss this summer depends on who is speaking and how they are defining jobs.
“We’ve lost 100,000 jobs in the last few months,” said Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, at an event in Chicago last week in response to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s claims that Illinois’ economy is rebounding.
Cross said tax hikes are to blame for driving away businesses and jobs. In January, Illinois raised its corporate tax rate by 45 percent, from 4.8 percent to 7 percent, and its personal income tax rate by 67 percent, from 3 percent to 5 percent.
But the Illinois Department of Economic Security (IDES) said Illinois only lost 10,200 jobs between June and August. In fact, the state has netted a total of 36,000 jobs since January of this year, according to IDES.
Sara Wojcicki, spokesman for Cross, said the House Republican leader was using statistics from the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), a free-market think tank. IPI’s statistics are based on a report by the U.S. Department of Labor showing the number of employed in Illinois has dropped by nearly 100,000 since January.
Comparing the number of unemployed to the number of jobs in the state is like comparing apples and oranges, Greg Rivera, IDES spokesman, said.
“To try to use the number of people working and equate it to the number of jobs, they’re not the same thing. It’s not the same measurement,” Rivera said.
Rivera said that attempting to divine the state’s economic future, good or bad, based on monthly fluctuations in data can be problematic.
“Monthly snapshots help feed our need for immediacy, but they don’t do a good job at telling us where our economy is going,” Rivera said.
In fact, between August 2010 and the same month this year, Illinois added 42,400 jobs, according to IDES reports. September numbers won’t be available until later this month.
Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at IPI, said the institute’s statistic about the number of unemployed shouldn’t be confused for job losses in the state, but the numbers are still worrying.
Dabrowski explained: “The number of unemployed has gone up relative to the number of jobs. … There are 100,000 fewer people that are employed in the state of Illinois than in January. The question, is what are these people doing? Are they leaving the state? What are they doing?”
Quinn insists he is working to foster job creation.
“We have to work with all of our businesses, large and small, on things like workers’ compensation insurance reform, which we passed this year, exporting, which we’ve talked about recently. … It’s a never-ending battle” to add jobs, Quinn said after an unrelated event Oct. 11 in Chicago.