Better days ahead?
Well, at least the economy is not going backward.
The staggering United States economy continues to stagger forward, making marginal progress amid speculation that a stronger advance is just around the corner.
That's the conclusion among economists following the release of unemployment figures last week by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Labor Department reported that the economy added 175,000 jobs (good news) while the unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.7 percent (bad news) amid general speculations that the approaching end of cold weather and the beginning of warm weather will thaw out consumers' wallets.
Capital Economics economist Paul Dales predict that employment growth will accelerate "once the weather returns to seasonal norms."
Keep your fingers crossed on that one, because the U.S. economy needs more people working, not only providing for themselves and their families but paying taxes to cash-strapped local, state and federal governments.
While the national economy continues a weak recovery in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Illinois' economic state remains in the doldrums.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security won't report the state's February unemployment numbers until March 20. But it reported last month that Illinois' unemployment rate of 8.7 percent remains well above the national rate, roughly one-third higher.
There is no good reason for Illinois — a modern state with a solid work force and first-rate transportation network — to rank among the worst states in the terms of economic performance. But there are reasons, most of them related to its reputation as a lousy place to do business because of issues with regulations, taxes and government corruption.
Voters will have a chance to do something about that in the March 18 primary election and the November general election, and they ought to take advantage of the opportunity. Illinois' unemployment numbers provide ample evidence of how the political elite has failed the people of Illinois.
The consequences of that failure have been devastating. Not only are too many Illinoisans not working, too many Illinoisans are searching for greener pastures in other states
It will, of course, take time to make the changes needed to turn Illinois into a magnet for business development. In the meantime, all people here can do is hope that the optimists are correct in their assessment that better weather will bring better days and that our national economic engine will soon be hitting on all cylinders.