The signal a state sends out to potential employers is almost more important that its actions, and Illinois isn’t sending the right message, according to the author of “How Money Walks.”

Illinois’ Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability asked in a recent report if a recession lies near for the Land of Lincoln because of slow growth.

Meanwhile, Pew Charitable Trusts highlights how Illinoisans’ income has only grown half a percent since the beginning of the recession in 2007, slower growth all of the country except Nevada.


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Author Travis Brown said slow growth in Illinois could be because of the actions or inactions from state lawmakers sending the wrong signals to job creators over the past few years.

“Today, I think part of the depression of the Illinois economy is that we’re sending the wrong message,” Brown said. “We’re saying, ‘We promise you we’ll fix these things,’ and they never got fixed.”

Officials from COGFA and Pew note the outmigration from Illinois to other states, though didn’t elaborate on the reasons. Brown says the data shows people are leaving for better economic conditions and opportunity.

“And that’s exactly what we see in the data,” Brown said. “We know from IRS movement that Chicago citizens are choosing lower tax environments.”

Pew Research Director Barb Rosewicz said some states like North Dakota, Texas and Alaska have seen economic booms because of natural gas exploration but wouldn’t speculate on Illinois economic doldrums.

Brown said “while Illinois remains a strong agricultural economy and subject to the trends, cycles and counter cycles of a down economy, the big story is really what happens to Chicagoland.”

“And that’s where I think there’s been a real difference,” Brown said. “You have neighboring state Wisconsin building the manufacturing base in part because it more attractive there.”

Brown said there needs to be action to grow the economy so that services residents expect like public safety, schools and other programs, aren’t drowned out by debt service.

“That's a real problem,” Brown said. “There has to be some reckoning there and hopefully some budget resolution.”


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