Unemployment rate no better

Unemployment rate no better

Illinois' continuing failure to court job creators is a gross disservice to its citizens.

The state unemployment numbers for July that were issued by the Illinois Department of Employment Security look good at first glance.

The state added 71,000 private sector jobs in July, marking the third straight month of positive job growth.

Putting a positive on the trend, IDES Director Jay Rowell said the increase "underscores the deliberate pace of our economic growth." But what Rowell said sounds better than what it is.

One of the definitions of the word "deliberate" is "unhurried," and that does not sound nearly so good.

Illinois' economic recovery from the 2008-09 housing and bank crisis is definitely unhurried, even more unhurried than the languid national recovery that is hardly a recovery at all.

Despite the increase in total employment, Illinois' unemployment rate remained unchanged at an unacceptably high 9.2 percent rate.

There's a positive aspect to that negative number. The reason the unemployment rate is so high is that the slow recovery has encouraged some of the unemployed to start looking for work again. Those who have given up seeking employment are not counted in calculation of the unemployment rate. Those who feel positive enough to start looking again for jobs are.

However one feels about the trend, it's pretty clear that the state's employment situation remains bleak. It's equally clear that the state's poor financial picture, effective bankruptcy, won't get any better until thousands of currently unemployed people are able to get a job and start paying taxes.

That's why it remains vitally important for Gov. Pat Quinn and state legislators to resolve to change the state's reputation as a hostile place to do business. The litigation environment, workers' compensation costs, expensive and cumbersome regulations and taxes must be recast in a way that encourages job-creators to move to Illinois and those businesses already here to expand.

That would require stepping on a lot of powerful groups that make generous campaign donations. But until the state acts affirmatively to change its business climate, Illinois will be stuck running in place and fall further behind other states that zealously court business development.

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