Economist: Ill. Economy Struggles as U.S. Recovers

The Illinois economy usually rises and falls with the rest of the country. But a government forecasting group says as the nation slowly emerges from the recession, Illinois isn’t. Chris Slaby reports.

Edward Boss is chief economist for the non-partisan forecasting arm of the state legislature.

He says there are several possibilities to explain Illinois’ lagging recovery.

BOSS: “We don’t make policy issues, but it may be that some states are lowering taxes. We’ve increased them.”

Boss also says some states, like Ohio, have seen budget deficits decreased — or even turned into surpluses — through an improving auto industry. Illinois hasn’t seen that because it doesn’t have as much auto manufacturing as neighboring states.

Instead, Boss says exports, a key component of Illinois’ economy, have been hurting.

Though Illinois still ranks fifth nationally in production, its total value of exports dropped about $500 million in the second half of 2012.

BOSS: “In partly this is reflecting what is happening in Europe. 20-percent of Illinois’ exports come from Europe. They’re mainly in recession.”

Boss also says Illinois has been hurt by unusually slow job growth.

He says it only took four years to regain the jobs lost in the last recession, in 2001.

More than four years after the 2008 recession, Illinois’ unemployment rate still remains high, at nine-percent.

—Chris Slaby

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