The biggest threat to Illinois' manufacturing jobs is Texas and Georgia, not China and Mexico. So what can the state do to keep jobs from jumping over the state border?

Dan Griswold, co-director of the Program on the American Economy and Globalization at the Mercatus Center, said Illinois has lost some jobs to globalization. But he noted Illinois policies haven't helped businesses keep jobs in the state.

"Illinois has some problems only the people of Illinois can sort out," Griswold said. "Blaming NAFTA or blaming the Chinese isn't going to help."

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Mark Denzler, director of the Illinois Manufacturer's Association, said those problems include crushing pension debt, billions of dollars in unpaid bills and high workers' comp costs.

"The high cost of workers' compensation is one reason companies don't locate here," Denzler said.

Griswold said if Illinois can solve its own policy issues, the state will be much more competitive.

"The state, like the United States, (has) to get (its) domestic policies right,” Griswold said.  “That's the best thing we can do — education policy, tax policy, getting our budgets sorted out."

Denzler said companies in Illinois fear a pending tax increase to pay for the state's $100 billion-plus pension debt and the state's $7 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

Griswold said Illinois still is a state that makes things (think Caterpillar and John Deere), but is also a state that is facing challenges.


(Copyright WBGZ /