Nearly 40 million people visit Chicago every year, but it doesn’t appear that a lot of them are sticking around. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report, between July 2015 and July 2016, 114,144 Illinois residents moved out of state.
Most American adults (57%) have never lived outside of their home state. On the other hand,15% have lived in four or more states. Over the past three years, the exodus out of Illinois increased from one resident every 7.8 minutes to one every 4.6 minutes. In fact, since the year 2000, the “Land of Lincoln” has seen a net loss of 1.22 million residents.
“Imagine the entire population of Peoria, Illinois’ seventh-largest city, all picking up and moving across state lines in one year, never to work, pay taxes or create jobs in Illinois again,” said Illinois Policy Institute Vice President of Policy Michael Lucci. “That’s equivalent to what happened to Illinois over the past year.”
One of the top reasons cited for leaving Illinois was the high taxes. This state has the second highest property taxes in the nation, coming in behind only New Jersey. The additional 3.75% income tax on net income and other local taxes end up being a heavy burden on Illinois residents.
Businesses are also faced with high income taxes as well as heavy regulations and fees that surpass those in other states. The cost of workers’ compensation insurance has been cited as playing a major role in businesses moving across state lines.
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the state lost a total of 2,800 trade, transportation, and utilities jobs; 2,300 construction jobs; and 700 manufacturing jobs this past November. These are all considered “high risk” industries for workers because of the physical nature of the work. The warehousing and storage industry, for instance, experiences nearly 15,000 injuries and illnesses every year, many of which are associated with slips, trips, and falls. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employees who suffer a foot or toe injury miss an average of seven days of work. Because of this, these “high risk” businesses end up paying double or triple the premiums for workers’ compensation insurance.
“Illinois’ out-of-balance workers’ compensation laws contribute to the Land of Lincoln’s loss of industrial investment and blue-collar job opportunities,” said Lucci. “Illinois manufacturing firms often cite workers’ compensation as a primary reason for the loss of rewarding industrial job opportunities in Illinois.
Businesses aren’t the only ones suffering under the heavy burden of workers’ compensation. According to Illinoispolicy.org, workers’ comp costs Illinois taxpayers more than $400 million each year.
Unfortunately, the state government’s resistance to making any reforms has led to continued job losses — which in turn has driven both businesses and residents across state lines. The power struggle between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan has facilitated a downward spiral of increasing costs and rising taxes.