Jobs lag national figure; Congress presses for debt repayment

Illinois unemployment now a full percentage point worse than national average

As the national economy has struggled to recover from the pandemic shutdowns, Illinois has struggled more than the nation as a whole. Other states, including some of our neighbors with better jobs-creation climates, have added jobs at faster rates than Illinois has, and we have continued to lag behind the national recovery as well.

According to the recently-released September preliminary jobs report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois’ unemployment figure is now 4.5%, a full percentage point worse than the national unemployment rate of 3.5%. Illinois’ figure was unchanged from the previous month, while the national number improved by 0.2%. Some economic fields added jobs in Illinois last month, like educational and health services, government, and professional services. But areas like leisure & hospitality and information science saw net losses for the month.

The reputation which Illinois has as a high-tax, high-regulation and high-crime state has discouraged potential investors and job creators from coming here. We are going to have to make improving our business climate an important priority in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

Congress pressing Illinois to re-pay unemployment loan

Meanwhile the debt which Illinois owes Uncle Sam for money borrowed to pay unemployment claims is now attracting attention from members of Congress who are calling on Illinois to re-pay the past-due amount. During the pandemic Illinois joined many other states in borrowing money from the federal government to pay for a surge in unemployment claims caused by the lockdowns. Most states repaid their debts, but Illinois used federal COVID recovery funds for other purposes and left more than a billion dollars in debt unpaid.

This month two members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to state officials calling for the loan to be repaid and warning of consequences for continuing to defer payments. The federal government is required by law to begin a collection action against Illinois if the debt is not repaid by next month. Penalties could include the partial withdrawal of a tax credit granted to employers for the unemployment insurance system. The warning letter was signed by Ways and Means Committee members Darin LaHood of Illinois and Kevin Brady of Texas.

Friend of Agriculture Award

I was honored to receive the 2022 Friend of Agriculture Award earlier this month from the Illinois Farm Bureau. Ag is such a big part of Illinois’ economy and so important to our local communities.

Helping to present this award were Woodford County Manager Malena Cook, Livingston County Manager Chris Bunting, Jim Carroll, Sarah Hoerner, Kaity Carroll, Ashley Ralph and Steve Carroll.  Thank you so very much to everyone. And thank you Jim for the combine ride. 

With the harvest and the fall colors – this is the best time of the year!

Youth waterfowl and deer seasons now open in Illinois

Illinois’ hunting seasons for youth have begun. The newly-opened season days for waterfowl hunting apply to hunters who are 17 or under, but only if they are accompanied by someone 18 or older. Only those 17 or younger may hunt during this time, and only if the youth hunter has an Illinois youth hunting licenses or apprentice hunting license. Youth waterfowl hunters who are 16 and older must have a federal duck stamp, but they do not need to have an Illinois duck stamp.

Extensive youth waterfowl hunting days started last weekend at specified wetland locations throughout Illinois and will occur again on the weekends of November 5-6, and November 26-27. The youth deer season of this fall was October 8-10. Standard firearm deer season opens on November 18.

Please also remember to drive carefully and be on the lookout for deer crossing the roadways. Here are some safety tips from the Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,402,883,260 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $3.7 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

Did You Know?

Illinois hosted the first-ever crosstown World Series back in 1906. The Cubs dominated the National League, winning 116 games and coasting to the pennant, while the American League champion White Sox had been nicknamed the “hitless wonders” after putting together the lowest batting average in all of baseball that season. The series seesawed back-and-forth early, before the Sox took the fifth and sixth games to win the title. The Cubs bounced back and won the Series in 1907 and 1908, becoming baseball’s first back-to-back world champions.

More news from around the state

State Trooper struck, two fatalities in separate Scott’s Law-related crashes less than hour apart

Justice Mary Jane Theis takes over as Chief Justice of Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois to reopen mortgage assistance program: What to know

Warning signs to watch for as RSV cases surge in kids in Illinois, several states

Madigan’s House rules remain in place as Republicans demand change, accountability

10 Halloween safety tips from Illinois Poison Center

One final thought

I got this picture late in the day while traveling in the district this week. Fall is the best time of the year. Beautiful!