November 9, 2017

Illinois' workforce decline blamed in part on state's reputation


Despite a decline in unemployment, the U.S. suffered a drop in the total people in the workforce last month that has erased the year’s gains. In Illinois, the gains are already gone and a staffing service director thinks the state’s poor business reputation is partly to blame.

Since January, the U.S has seen its unemployment rate drop and economy improve, but the country’s overall workforce has shrunk. In October, the workforce participation shrank dramatically. By falling to 62.7 percent labor force participation, all workforce gains that the U.S. had this year were erased. That marks the sharpest decrease in four years.

Pat Dolan, Xpress Personnel’s Chicago corporate developer, thinks there is something keeping able-bodied people in their homes and not in the workforce.

"People are not motivated or seeing the benefit in getting out and finding gainful employment," he said. "There just doesn’t seem to be that motivation to get people off the couch."

Illinois’ workforce has dropped by an entire percent since the year began. Dolan partly blames the drop on Illinois’ bad business reputation.

"I think it contributes to the mindset that there’s not a lot of reason to participate in a state that doesn’t seem to really be going anywhere," he said. "It’s a combination of the tax increase, the messages like the governors from other states thanking Mike Madigan for sending jobs to their states, and other messages like that will keep people from wanting to participate in a state that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere."

Illinois' unemployment rate is 5 percent, well above the national rate. The September rate varied widely by county. Some were below 4 percent but some reached 8 percent.