More Infrastructure Investment Would Kickstart Illinois

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. This post is part of the “Frankonomics” series. Physical infrastructure investment is one of the main government expenditures that conclusively enhances … Continue reading More Infrastructure Investment Would Kickstart Illinois

Illinois Needs a $10 Minimum Wage Just to Keep Up With Inflation

Economists across the country have advocated for raising the minimum wage, claiming that the benefits outweigh the costs. For example, increasing the minimum wage has been found to boost consumer spending and reduce income inequality in the economy.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has not been increased since 2009. Though the federal rate has not increased in 7 years, many states and localities have raised their own minimum wages. Chicago raised its local minimum wage to $10.00 in 2015. By 2019, the City is expected to have a minimum wage of $13.00, per an ordinance passed by the City Council. Continue reading “Illinois Needs a $10 Minimum Wage Just to Keep Up With Inflation”

New Study: Michigan Prevailing Wage Repeal Will Kill Jobs and Hamper Economy

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. Lansing – Just completed research by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute, Colorado State University Economist Kevin Duncan … Continue reading New Study: Michigan Prevailing Wage Repeal Will Kill Jobs and Hamper Economy

Road Construction Workers in the Midwest are VERY Productive

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI). Visit MEPI online follow the affiliated Illinois Economic Policy Institute on Twitter @illinoisEPI. Construction workers who specialize in road and bridge infrastructure projects are productive, high-skilled, and well-paid in the Midwest, … Continue reading Road Construction Workers in the Midwest are VERY Productive

A Quick Comment on Government Unions in Illinois

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.


Yesterday the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) released “The Anatomy of Influence: Government Unions in Illinois,” perhaps-not-so-coincidentally on the same day that Governor Rauner passed an executive order prohibiting public sector unions from paying fair share fees to fund union activities. In usual IPI fashion, the report only tells a small component of the whole story. Below are a few thoughts on the report.

Report quote: ” At both the IEA and the Illinois Federation of Teachers or IFT, the top 20 highest-paid employees all are paid salaries of more than $100,000 annually.”

The IEA and the IFT represent about 214,000 workers in Illinois combined, according to the report. These 40 individuals’ salaries represent 0.02% of all members. By contrast, data from the American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates for 2013 reveal that the Top 10% of all workers in Illinois earned at least $100,000 in real total income and the Top 1% earns $475,000 or more [Note: See the STATA output above, which reports weighted estimates for 59,743 Illinois residents who are in the labor force and are employed]. The fact that 40 salaries in the IEA and IFT are above $100,000 is utterly meaningless when contrasted with the rest of the Illinois labor market.

There is a myth about the “overpaid” labor union leader. In a report released last month with the University of Illinois Labor Education Program, ILEPI debunked that myth (PDF) from a national perspective. The report provides a complete story by comparing and contrasting (perhaps a novel idea these days…). We concluded:

Unions raise and compress wages, and union leaders are compensated accordingly. The typical labor union is neither large nor lucrative, with average compensation packages to employees that are similar to social advocacy, community services, and worker services groups. Payroll costs are much lower in labor organizations than they are in business associations (such as chambers of commerce), in law offices, and among managers of companies and enterprises. Additionally, labor leaders and top administrative staff are not paid more than the market rate for other leaders and administrators. In fact, they tend to earn far less than comparable CEOs and executives in relevant industries. Thus, there is no evidence to support any claim of “Big” labor, with unions governed by overcompensated leaders.

Once again, here is a link to that paper.

Report quote: “The Illinois Policy Institute reviewed campaign-finance reports from 2002 to 2014 and found the five major government unions in Illinois spent a combined $46 million in political campaigns in that time.”

According to FollowTheMoney.org, $1.29 billion has been contributed to statewide political campaigns in Illinois since 2002. In the context of all campaign contributions, the $46 million influence of public sector unions represents just 3.6 percent of all campaign contributions. Furthermore, during that exact same time, Bruce Rauner contributed $39.6 million to political campaigns. Once again, that is $46 million dollars representing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers (3.6 percent) versus nearly $40 million from one businessman (3.1 percent). Let’s get real about the influence of money in politics here. Continue reading “A Quick Comment on Government Unions in Illinois”

McHenry County Should Adopt Its Prevailing Wage Ordinance

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. The call by McHenry County Board Members to partner with other county governments to challenge Illinois’ prevailing wage determinations would be a waste of government resources, according to a new study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. The report, Building a Strong McHenry: How Prevailing Wage Works [PDF], finds that prevailing wage is necessary to prevent government bodies– such as the McHenry County Board– from using their massive purchasing power to undercut the established labor market. The policy is also … Continue reading McHenry County Should Adopt Its Prevailing Wage Ordinance