The Land of Lincoln’s job-killing policies are hurting minority communities increasingly hard, while black unemployment in pro-growth states remains significantly lower.
Illinois has the highest black unemployment rate in the country at 15 percent, according to a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, or EPI. This has resulted from policymakers’ yearslong neglect of Illinois’ economy. Illinois’ political leadership has ignored opportunities to encourage economic growth while enacting taxes and regulations that have stunted job creation. These anti-job policy decisions have helped create a situation where Illinois’ most economically vulnerable residents are the least well-off of any state considered by EPI’s study, which focuses on the half of U.S. states with larger black populations.
By contrast, pro-growth states such as Indiana, Michigan and Texas record significantly lower black unemployment rates, with Indiana at 9.6 percent, Michigan at 9.3 percent and Texas at 6.1 percent – the lowest rate of any state in the study. The EPI analysis estimates unemployment rates by ethnic groups and comes ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ full release of such annual data.
No state in the Midwest, of which states have available data, comes particularly close to Illinois’ 15 percent black unemployment rate. Even Michigan, home to the highest black unemployment rate in the country as recently as 2013, has significantly improved its standing as its rate declined to 9.3 percent. Ohio comes in at 10.3 percent and Missouri at 8.2 percent, according to the estimates.
According to the EPI study, the situation has worsened in Illinois, with black unemployment rising over the last two years to 15 percent in the second quarter of 2016 from 12.6 percent in the third quarter of 2014. This contrasts with Texas, where the black unemployment rate has improved over the same time period. The Lone Star State’s black unemployment rate has fallen over the last two years even in the face of an economic slowdown caused by the falling price of oil. Illinois’ black unemployment rate is now more than double Texas’.
In particular, Illinois’ black male unemployment rate has been especially high over recent years. Declining employment in Illinois’ industrial sectors most likely has harmed job opportunities for black men. According to the BLS’ 2015 annual average data, Illinois’ black male unemployment rate was 15.1 percent, the highest in the Midwest and more than double Indiana’s rate.
Ominously, the EPI estimates that Illinois’ black unemployment rate has gone up since the 2015 annual averages. The current black male unemployment rate would be approximately 19.7 percent assuming it rose proportionally with total black unemployment. And this staggering unemployment level comes seven years after the Great Recession ended.
Black Americans would especially benefit from the pro-growth economic policies and lower tax burden all of Illinois needs. The strategy of taxing, spending and tightly regulating business has failed Illinois, and has hurt black communities in particular. Policy reformswill encourage investment and hiring in Illinois’ industrial sectors:
- Workers’ compensation reform to put Illinois’ costs in line with other states
- Spending reforms to control the overall tax burden manufacturers face
- A property-tax freeze to protect industrial properties from confiscatory tax rates
- Sales-tax reform to eliminate sales-tax “pyramiding” by removing the sales tax on manufacturing and other business inputs
- Labor reforms to guarantee worker choice through Right-to-Work laws, which attract new manufacturing investments.
The status quo has failed Illinois’ industrial communities, minority communities and large swaths of people who simply want decent job opportunities. This has resulted in workers and their families leaving the state at record rates to find better opportunities elsewhere, leaving behind those with fewer resources stuck jobless in the Land of Lincoln.