economy

State of the Union 2015
Bill Ingalls / NASA (flickr.com/nasahqphotos)

A pair of economists have put one of the central claims of Obamacare opponents to the test: Is Obamacare a job-killer? We hear the answer in the latest episode of the State of the State podcast.

Amanda Vinicky

Small-business owners are giving mixed reviews regarding the latest Senate proposal designed to slowly raise the minimum wage and cushion payroll costs. The legislation, which passed the Senate earlier this month and now pending in the House, would immediately bring the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9 an hour and then increase it by 50 cents per year until it reached $11  in 2019. The climb in wages would happen more gradually than called for under previous bills from sponsor Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat. 

Gloria Davis addresses a Senate committee
Senate Democratic Caucus

America’s middle class faced threats to its financial well-being even prior to the Great Recession.

When Jorge Chapa was a student at the University of Chicago, he had a lab job collecting brain samples from a meatpacking plant. That’s how, in 1974, he became familiar with the industry and its bloody and backbreaking disassembly line. He revisited meatpacking 30 years later, as a sociologist. This time he analyzed it for a study showing how the once high-paying job had slid from providing a middle-class living into one paying minimum wage.

WUIS

Ann Callis says she has talked to people throughout the 13th congressional district during her campaign and one theme comes through loud and clear.

"It all comes down to jobs. People want good, livable wage jobs," she said.  The Democratic candidate stopped in Springfield Wednesday to attend party events in connection with the Illinois State Fair.  

"(People) worry about their future.  I hear from college students. They worry about student loans.  From people that have graduated, they worry about student loan debt."

Wikimedia Commons

  Lawmakers are exploring a way to stabilize Illinois communities hit hard by the Great Recession. Advocates say a statewide property tax credit would boost development in blighted areas.

When houses are left vacant, it drives down property values for the entire block. In Cook County alone, there are an estimated 55,000 such vacancies.

Chris Farrell headshot
APM

Join WUIS in an important community conversation at the first 

A WUIS ENGAGE BREAKFAST
May 2, 2014, 8-9:30 a.m.
Hoogland Center for the Arts - Theatre III
AUDIO SPECIAL COMING SOON!

Special guest, Chris Farrell, is coming to Springfield to share his thoughts and take your questions about education and our local economy.   

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Guess what? 

State tax cuts don’t improve economic growth.

No, that’s not an April Fool’s Day zinger.

Rather, it’s the conclusion of a report issued last month by the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, a nonpartisan advocacy organization for the state’s youngsters (Poor Finances, Uncertainty about Looming Revenue Collapse Threaten State Economy).

Amanda Vinicky

After twelve years as President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Doug Whitley's retiring next year.

Whitley says he's leaving disappointed, as the latest data showed Illinois with the second highest unemployment in the nation, behind Nevada.

And he says political leaders haven't done enough about it, except for one - Chicago's mayor: "With the exception of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, I don't hear any other political leaders in our state talking about jobs, trying to recruit jobs, trying to announce new jobs and showing a sincere concern with unemployment," Whitley says.

IDES

With national unemployment at its lowest level since the start of the Great Recession, the numbers keep going the wrong way in several parts of Illinois.

Peoria, Danville, and Decatur all saw unemployment increase by more than a percentage point.

Still, Gov. Pat Quinn defends his administration's efforts at building the economy.  Thursday, he announced that a German manufacturer will move its U-S headquarters to Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, a move Quinn says could create 40 jobs.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As I grow older, I reflect more on the past and worry more about the future, not just for myself but for my grandchildren, whose ages range from 2 months to 10 years. 

State of Illinois

Although the federal stimulus package is increasingly unpopular among the American public, there’s little doubt that Illinois’ top Democrats support it. In mid-September, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn came to Alton to tout the fact that Illinois became the first state in the nation to start work on high-speed rail improvements paid for by the stimulus bill.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Years ago, a group of legislative back-benchers dubbed themselves “The Mushroom Caucus.” The moniker was apt, they explained, because leadership “keeps us in the dark and feeds us horse [manure].”

If Illinois voters are feeling a strong sense of kinship with those old-time lawmakers just a few days after the November election, they certainly can’t be blamed.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois faces its worst fiscal crisis in eight decades, a daunting challenge for the state’s purported leaders. So how have they responded?

In a word, abysmally. Indeed, the leadership deficit almost rivals the state’s dollar shortfall. Consider:

In his budget memo last month — at 21 minutes, too short and devoid of specifics to merit being called an address — Gov. Pat Quinn essentially punted.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Illinois made the Top 10 last month.

Not Bruce Weber’s Fighting Illini, a disappointing 4-2 and unranked through the first six games of the young basketball season.

Rather, the Prairie State itself, tied for ninth with Wisconsin in a national ranking of states on shaky financial footing. The top spot went to California, so Illinois’ elevated status is nothing to brag about.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

“Wait ’til next year,’’ for more than a century the lament of long-suffering fans of the Chicago Cubs, aptly describes the approach Illinois leaders are taking to the state’s budget woes heading into the fall legislative session this month.

Consider the setting:

• The bills keep piling up, to the tune of $2.8 billion and counting at the end of the last budget year, according to the state comptroller’s office.

• Thousands of state workers face layoffs, adding to a jobless total already at its highest level in 26 years.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The economic implosion over the last 20 months caught many of us by surprise. We had confidently ridden the stock market’s ascent to the heady all-time highs of the Dow Jones Industrial and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes in October 2007, and then hung on dearly as those numbers plummeted to 13-year lows earlier this year. The roller-coaster ride left many of us dizzy and wondering what in the world had happened. Not to mention a whole lot less financially solvent.

Grim Prognosis: Illinois' fiscal health is in a sorry state
WUIS/Illinois Issues

"Run government like a business." We've all heard the familiar refrain, typically as a pledge from a political candidate or as a demand from a government critic.

The 6,300 citizens of Round Lake Park, a working class village near the Wisconsin border in far northern Lake County, have been affected by the recent economic slump just like everyone else in Illinois. They've watched jobs evaporate at nearby Baxter International and Motorola. They've seen fuel prices and health care costs go up. Some have put off needed repairs on their homes until finances look better.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The late state Sen. Aldo DeAngelis may have put the matter most succinctly. In the summer of 1989, he was listening none-too-patiently to criticism of the state's decision to grant Sears, Roebuck & Co. a $61 million financial incentive package, sweetened by tax breaks and development benefits, when the company threatened to move its Merchandise Group to North Carolina or Texas. Critics, we reported then, were suggesting to the Legislative Audit Commission that Sears might have snookered the state out of a good deal of public cash.