By Shane Nicholson
Governor Bruce Rauner has spent the better part of his administration laying the blame for nearly every one of Illinois’ financial ills on either pensions or unions.
It turns out pensions may be a big problem for most of the state’s workers, but not the ones the usual suspects want to railroad. Let’s take a look at some of the raw jobs data before we get back to that.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Illinois ranked 29th in job growth and an even more depressing 42nd for wage growth, December 2013 to December 2014.
In the Midwest region it paints a dire picture. The state is trailing nearly every neighbor in creating jobs and is behind all of them in terms of compensation.
Job creation for 2014 checked in at 1.4 percent growth, trailing the national average by 0.8 percent.
Wage growth looked a little better in this same small frame, cracking 2.8 percent compared to a national average of 3.5 percent.
By contrast, Iowa at 4.3 percent, Kentucky at 4.1 percent, Indiana at 4 percent, Missouri and Wisconsin at 3.4 percent and Michigan at 3.3 percent all outstripped Illinois, most topping the national figures.
Check the headlines and sound bytes from Rauner and the rest of the GOP hierarchy decrying public unions and pensions and it’s clear where the battle lines have been drawn.
But a report from the Chicago Tribune may toss the conversation into a new light.
CEO pay in Illinois up 13 percent
Sunday’s Tribune showed that CEO pay across 100 large Illinois companies was up 13 percent during the same time frame covering the above BLS numbers.
The median figure of those 100 execs: $5.7 million dollars.
Even better, S&P 500 companies showed CEO compensation growth of just 0.8 percent during 2014, meaning CEO pay in the state grew at 713 percent of the national average. It’s yet more good news for people at the top of the chain.
Fully 22 CEOs eclipsed the $10 millon mark last year, up from 17 in the 2013, and pay rose for more than half the executives on the list.
And one of the main the reasons for all these gains? Pensions.
“(Pension) numbers have gone up, are pretty high, and in some cases have contributed to 40 percent to 50 percent of the increase in total pay,” said Aaron Boyd, Equilar’s governor research director.
Your pension may be on the line but fear not, the CEOs already doing pretty good in this tough economic market they’ve helped create are set up for retirement.
Thankfully Illinois has a strong business-minded leader at the helm, one so assured of his remit that he’s spending money on campaign ads to target members of the State House and Senate six months into his first term.
In other news, social services will still get hacked and the state government will shut down if a budget agreement isn’t reached soon.
Oh, and the executive mansion is getting a new roof.
And just in case you were wondering, the Governor’s office made sure to let us all know that prevailing wage will be paid for the work to be done.
That will be reassuring to the unions Rauner is working tirelessly to tear apart.