Ill. unemployment at 9.2 percent for July, above nat'l average

August 2, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Illinois has the second-highest state unemployment rate in the country. Only Nevada's 9.6 rate is higher.

Illinois is a state with too many people looking for work and not enough businesses and public agencies with available jobs.

Brian Battle is one of the bosses at Performance Trust, a bond trading company in Chicago. He says fewer businesses are coming or growing to Illinois in fear of rising taxes and gridlocked politics.

"We have tax uncertainty, and we also have political uncertainty that's built into the state of Illinois," said Battle.

In 2015, the Illinois General Assembly will decide whether to extend the temporary tax increase on individuals and businesses it approved in 2011. And if lawmakers do not resolve the worst in the nation $100 billion pension debt, state taxpayers could be on the hook for a bigger bite.

"The job creators and the job seekers have turned negative on Illinois. So the seekers and the creators both are looking to other states," said John Tillman, Illinois Policy Institute.

Among the big cities, Chicago's 10.3 percent unemployment rate leads Los Angeles at 9.7 percent and New York City at 8.4. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted newly arrived, mostly downtown Chicago jobs during his 27 months in office.

"That's a great press event to get TV coverage but has nothing to do with what the root problem is. The root problem is, why are there no jobs on the South Side? Why are there no jobs on the West Side?" said Tillman.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall has warned for a decade that government over-spending and unresolved pension debt would destroy illinois jobs.

"Even Michigan, where the largest city has filed for bankruptcy, has a lower unemployment rate than the state of Illinois. That tells you that there's something the matter with Illinois," said Msall.

Since 2008, Illinois has lost tens of thousands of jobs in the public sector. A recent example, in since June, the Chicago Public Schools laid off nearly 3,000 people.

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