Illinois Losing Thousands of Manufacturing Jobs

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Manufacturers in Illinois say lack of a state budget and policy reforms are keeping them from building a better foundation in Illinois.

Illinois lost more than 12,000 manufacturing jobs in 2015. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said the drop is part of more than a decade of decline in Illinois. The IMA says Illinois’s “punitive policies” including some of the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country are responsible.

Selvaggio Steel President Mark Selvaggio said his Springfield company can’t compete with companies across the border in Indiana.          

“Our [workers’ compensation] costs are about $90,000 a year for our company, if our company was in Indiana, it would be $30,000 a year,” Selvaggio said.

He said Indiana fabricators are doing so well they are subcontracting jobs to his company.

“One particular client added the second shift and he’s still too busy, and he’s giving us work which is the reason we haven’t had to lay off employees in December and January,” Selvaggio said.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Vice President Mark Denzler said companies have been losing confidence without reforms and now without a budget.

“Cooler heads need to prevail and we need to sit down and work out an agreement,” Denzler said.

Denzler said otherwise, the state could continue to see companies moving out of state. Selvaggio said his company won’t leave Illinois.

“Our employees live here, our families live here, and our clients live here,” Selvaggio said.

But, he knows the state needs to turn it around for other, especially larger, manufacturers.

“We have to give the companies in the state of Illinois a reason to stay in the state of Illinois,” he said. “And actually possibly bring more manufacturing to the state of Illinois.”

The general unemployment dipped below six percent for the first time since 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are still more than 570,000 people employed in manufacturing jobs across the state. Of Illinois’s $68 billion dollars in exports, 93 percent of it comes from manufactured products.

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