Illinois Added the Fourth-Most Jobs in 2014

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


Illinois added the fourth-most jobs and saw the largest unemployment rate decline in America last year, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The information was released on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Regional and State Unemployment – 2014 Annual Averages report.

According to the estimates, Illinois added 103,000 jobs in 2014, behind California (+394,000), Texas (+344,000), and Florida (+251,000). On the other hand, five states– Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia– lost 7,000 jobs or more. Illinois job gains were larger than all other Midwest states.

As a growth rate, employment in Illinois increased by 1.73 percent, outpacing the national average (+1.65 percent). The employment growth rate, however, was higher in three bordering states (Missouri, Iowa, and Indiana) but lower in two bordering states (Wisconsin and Kentucky). The three fastest-growing states by percentage growth in employment were all “collective bargaining” states without a “right-to-work” law: Colorado (+3.3 percent), Delaware (+3.2 percent), and Hawaii (+3.1 percent). Illinois placed in the top half of all states plus the District of Columbia by employment growth rate, ranking 23rd (see Table 1 below).

At the same time, Illinois experienced the largest decline in unemployment across the nation. The number of unemployed Illinois residents fell by 134,000 individuals (-22.6 percent). The second-largest drop in the Midwest was in Ohio, which saw an unemployment pool decline of 99,000 individuals. According to the BLS report, “The largest unemployment rate decline occurred in Illinois (-2.0 percentage points).”

The share of the population at least 16 years of age that has one or more jobs is 60.3 percent in Illinois. Illinois compares favorably on this statistic– the “employment rate” or “employment ratio”– with Indiana (59.6 percent), Michigan (56.1 percent), and Ohio (59.3 percent). The employment ratio nationally is 59.0 percent.

Finally, the number of Illinois residents at least 16 years of age increased by 27,000 people in 2014. This population growth was in line with gains in other Midwest states. The number of individuals at least 16 years old increased by between 23,000 and 36,000 persons in each of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Outcomes matter. While labor market outcomes in Illinois have lagged behind those in neighboring states, the state’s economy is now gaining steam. Contrary to claims made by some politicians in Illinois, the state remains a great place to do business. The good news is that employers and workers still realize this, even if politicians and ideologues say otherwise.


Table 1: Change in Employment, 2014 vs. 2013 (in Thousands)

(‘000s)  Employed Persons, Ages 16+  Rank
State 2013 2014 #change %change #rank %rank
California 17,003  17,397    394 2.3% 1 14
Texas 12,104  12,448    344 2.8% 2 6
Florida 8,783  9,034    251 2.9% 3 5
Illinois 5,961  6,064    103 1.7% 4 23
Michigan 4,306  4,402    96 2.2% 5 15
Ohio 5,299  5,392    93 1.8% 6 21
Indiana 2,947  3,036    89 3.0% 7 4
Colorado 2,591  2,676    85 3.3% 8 1
Massachusetts 3,272  3,353    81 2.5% 9 12
Arizona 2,804  2,878    74 2.6% 10 9
New York 8,891  8,964    73 0.8% 11 36
North Carolina 4,310  4,370    60 1.4% 12 27
Missouri 2,814  2,871    57 2.0% 13 20
Louisiana 1,965  2,020    55 2.8% 14 7
New Jersey 4,164  4,218    54 1.3% 15 28
Washington 3,217  3,270    53 1.7% 16 25
Wisconsin 2,877  2,924    47 1.6% 17 26
Georgia 4,368  4,414    46 1.1% 18 33
Oregon 1,761  1,807    46 2.6% 19 10
Pennsylvania 5,964  6,009    45 0.8% 20 37
South Carolina 2,013  2,056    43 2.1% 21 18
Connecticut 1,724  1,760    36 2.1% 22 19
Virginia 4,005  4,041    36 0.9% 23 34
Iowa 1,594  1,629    35 2.2% 24 17
Nevada 1,252  1,286    34 2.7% 25 8
Minnesota 2,819  2,852    33 1.2% 26 31
Utah 1,344  1,377    33 2.5% 27 13
Kansas 1,408  1,432    24 1.7% 28 24
Hawaii 620  639    19 3.1% 29 3
Idaho 724  740    16 2.2% 30 16
Delaware 413  426    13 3.2% 31 2
Maryland 2,917  2,930    13 0.5% 32 42
North Dakota 395  405    10 2.5% 33 11
Arkansas 1,211  1,221    10 0.8% 34 35
Rhode Island 505  511    6 1.2% 35 30
D.C. 342  348    6 1.8% 36 22
Montana 486  492    6 1.2% 37 29
New Hampshire 704  709    5 0.7% 38 38
Nebraska 983  988    5 0.5% 39 41
South Dakota 428  433    5 1.2% 40 32
Wyoming 292  294    2 0.7% 41 39
Alaska 340  342    2 0.6% 42 40
Maine 660  659    -1 -0.2% 43 44
Vermont 336  335    -1 -0.3% 44 46
New Mexico 859  858    -1 -0.1% 45 43
Oklahoma 1,707  1,704    -3 -0.2% 46 45
West Virginia 746  739    -7 -0.9% 47 49
Alabama 2,012  2,004    -8 -0.4% 48 47
Kentucky 1,892  1,875    -17 -0.9% 49 48
Mississippi 1,163  1,140    -23 -2.0% 50 51
Tennessee 2,842  2,811    -31 -1.1% 51 50

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