There was consternation last week when the latest federal job numbers showed a tenth of a percentage point increase in the national unemployment rate. But Illinois' rate remains much worse than that.
Illinois' unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, that's more than one-and-a-half percentage points higher than the national rate. Edward Boss, chief economist with the financial forecasting arm of the Illinois legislature, says Illinois had been doing about the same as other Midwestern states. But that was two years ago, and starting last year, it's been on the losing end of that comparison.
"And so if you look at the states around us, like, a few years ago Michigan was, for example, 12-plus unemployment rate. Now they're 8.8 - they're below us," says Boss.
Boss says Illinois is missing out on some of the economic bright spots appearing elsewhere around the country, like the recovering housing market. Construction activity is actually down from a year ago.
"And if you look at like Illinois housing permits, which is a precursor to new housing starts, there's been very little lift there," Boss says.
Boss says Illinois has the second-worst unemployment rate in the country, just one-tenth of a percentage point better than the three states tied for last: California, Mississippi, and Nevada.