In focus in 2019: Illinois' economy

In focus in 2019: Illinois' economy

Throughout this week, we'll turn to the experts — UI professors — to educate us on the issues they believe will make front-page headlines in 2019.

Fourth up: FRED GIERTZ, on the state-economy storyline he'll be paying closest attention to in the year ahead.

"Most reports focus on Illinois' continuing slow population decline. However, recently released numbers show that Illinois' per-capita income growth the last four quarters exceeded the national average, ranking 11th among the states.

"Illinois recovered slowly from the Great Recession, but it appears to be growing more rapidly now. The recent strong performance may be only transitory since the state's long-term budget problems have still not been addressed.

"Outgoing Gov. BRUCE RAUNER must be one of the few incumbents in history to disparage the performance of the economy he presided over for four years. Most politicians in his position grossly overstate the positive.

"Unemployment stood at 6.0 percent when he entered office and fell to the current 4.2 percent, yet the governor consistently highlighted the state's ills.

"Parenthetically, recent reports have emphasized that population growth is not synonymous with wage growth in many states. Earlier this month, Fitch Ratings stated that the 'long-established phenomenon (of slow population growth) that has not prevented the state's economy from continuing a long pattern of overall growth.'"

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