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BLS Figures Paint Bleak Picture of IL Economy, Refute Gov. Rauner Claims of Union-Driven Ills

"Did I say unions? I meant corporations."

“Did I say unions? I meant corporations.”

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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has blamed almost all of the state’s economic woes on unions and pensions, but a look at the numbers shows the real problem may be the small group of workers he is trying to protect.  Creating “Right-to-Work” zones and making drastic changes to the state pension system are cornerstones of his “Turnaround Agenda” and attacking unions has taken him from former business executive to Governor.  However, many are starting to notice an unfortunate trend in Illinois: the rich are getting richer and the middle class and poor are barely treading water. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers paint the picture:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Illinois ranked 29th in job growth and an even more depressing 42nd for wage growth, December 2013 to December 2014.

In the Midwest region it paints a dire picture. The state is trailing nearly every neighbor in creating jobs and is behind all of them in terms of compensation.

Job creation for 2014 checked in at 1.4 percent growth, trailing the national average by 0.8 percent.

Wage growth looked a little better in this same small frame, cracking 2.8 percent compared to a national average of 3.5 percent.

By contrast, Iowa at 4.3 percent, Kentucky at 4.1 percent, Indiana at 4 percent, Missouri and Wisconsin at 3.4 percent and Michigan at 3.3 percent all outstripped Illinois, most topping the national figures.

An article in The Chicago Tribune explains that Illinois workers are experiencing slow growth at best while CEOs are enjoying large raises.  During the same time frame as the aforementioned BLS figures, CEO pay across 100 large Illinois companies was up 13 percent with the median salary of the 100 executives being $5.7 million:

S&P 500 companies showed CEO compensation growth of just 0.8 percent during 2014, meaning CEO pay in the state grew at 713 percent of the national average. It’s yet more good news for people at the top of the chain.

Fully 22 CEOs eclipsed the $10 million mark last year, up from 17 in the 2013, and pay rose for more than half the executives on the list.

And one of the main the reasons for all these gains? Pensions.

“(Pension) numbers have gone up, are pretty high, and in some cases have contributed to 40 percent to 50 percent of the increase in total pay,” said Aaron Boyd, Equilar’s governor research director.

What does this mean for the average Illinois worker?  Shane Nicholson, editor of The Rock River Times, sees it for what it is:

Your pension may be on the line but fear not, the CEOs already doing pretty good in this tough economic market they’ve helped create are set up for retirement.

Thankfully Illinois has a strong business-minded leader at the helm, one so assured of his remit that he’s spending money on campaign ads to target members of the State House and Senate six months into his first term.

In other news, social services will still get hacked and the state government will shut down if a budget agreement isn’t reached soon.

Oh, and the executive mansion is getting a new roof.


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