|In February 2012, Caterpillar Inc. CEO Doug Oberhelman wrote an op-ed outlining the reforms Illinois needs to foster an environment for jobs growth, instead of driving more and more businesses across state lines. In the four years since the Springfield State Journal-Register published Oberhelman’s letter, Illinois has been the only state in the region with a net loss of manufacturing jobs.
In his piece, Oberhelman pointed out the policy problems that prevent companies such as Caterpillar from making new investments and creating new jobs in Illinois. He urged state leaders to take on the tax and regulatory reforms necessary to rebalance Illinois’ economy and put the state’s fiscal house in order. “Caterpillar has deep roots in Illinois,” he said, adding that “Illinois is Caterpillar’s home, and it is my home.” However, Oberhelman also pointed out that Caterpillar hadn’t opened a new Illinois factory for decades, and state policy problems have a lot to do with it.
Illinois has lost 12,500 manufacturing jobs on net in the four years since Oberhelman wrote his op-ed, while surrounding states added a net 234,000 manufacturing jobs. Michigan gained 73,000, Indiana added 44,000, Kentucky tacked on 29,000, and Wisconsin added 21,000 manufacturing jobs.