Despite recent job gains and a falling unemployment rate, the number of Illinoisans working today is the lowest in decades.

Illinois may have gained 43,000 jobs in the past 12 months, but Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability Chief Economist Edward Boss said the state’s labor-force participation rate is the lowest it’s been since the 1970s. 

“You can’t expect much growth or much tax revenue if you don’t have people working and paying taxes if they’re out of the labor force.”
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Boss said Illinois lags the rest of the Midwest in recovering from the recession, especially when it comes to manufacturing jobs. 

“Some of the surrounding states -- Indiana, Wisconsin and even Michigan -- are doing better in terms of getting new jobs, manufacturing jobs.”

Boss said that along with incentives offered by other states, there are other factors that could be in play for Illinois manufacturers packing up and moving out. 

“You’ve got to look at the tax structure, workman’s comp, there’s a whole bunch of labor issues that differ from state to state.”

Boss also highlights the continued outmigration of Illinois residents. Boss dismisses the idea that people are leaving Illinois for other states just because of the weather. While the top destination is Florida, the second most popular state people are leaving for is Indiana.

Boss said the state is gaining some jobs, but they’re not the high-paying jobs found in the manufacturing industry.

Illinois lost more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year.
(Copyright WBGZ /