Wrong way, Illinois: Unemployment rate increased most in the nation in 2011

Illinois Policy Institute

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Use our interactive dashboard to explore the numbers behind “Wrong way, Illinois.”

As Gov. Pat Quinn prepares for the State of the State address on Feb. 1, he will find it difficult to defend the state’s economic policies that have resulted in more unemployed Illinoisans in 2011.

Almost a year after Illinois’ record income tax increase, the state’s unemployment woes contrast starkly with the slow but positive national economic recovery. Unemployment rates in 46 states dropped since January 2011, and some dramatically. Illinois’ unemployment rate, on the other hand, was 9.8 percent in December, up from 9 percent in January 2011. Simply put, Illinois placed more people on the unemployment rolls than any other state in the country.

Illinois leadership had substantive policy options when it began 2011 with major fiscal challenges. But rather than reduce spending, tackle its pension problems and reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois, officials chose to kick off the year with the largest tax hike in state history.

The results? More deficits, an estimated $7 billion in unpaid bills and a downgrade by Moody’s credit agency to the lowest rating in the country. The state had to pay companies to stay in Illinois, and, worst of all, more Illinoisans joined the ranks of the unemployed.


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