ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — High taxes are cited as the primary reason residents are leaving Illinois and stymieing the state’s job growth, according to a new report.

The report by Wirepoints showed that since 2019, Illinois has lost 70,000 jobs, ranking 10th worst in the country for job growth.

The last U.S. Census showed that 110,127 people left the state between July 2021 and July 2022.

“Illinois wound up losing a congressional seat because the population stagnated,” said John Simon said, an accounting department professor at Northern Illinois University, who teaches about the census.

The state now has 17 representatives, down from 18.

The population loss has resulted in a booming market for junk removal businesses, like Junk Removal Dudes, who clear away unwanted items in DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, and Cook counties. Owner Alex Broches told CBS News that his business, which started as a side hustle, has grown to 15 to 20 homes a day.

Broches said his customers frequently cite the state’s high taxes as a reason for a move.

“You know, taxes here in Illinois are crazy,” said customer Kelly Smaltz. “Of our group, probably 10 of us are leaving or have left Illinois just because, it’s just, taxwise, a very difficult place to live.”

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 4.2% in April, worse than neighboring Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, each with around 3% or less.

Major employers such as Stellantis, Caterpillar, Boeing, Tyson, Guggenheim Investments, and Citadel have left the state, some citing high crime and taxes.

Former gubernatorial candidate and businessman Gary Rabine told The Center Square, “Just five to ten years ago and beyond, nobody wanted to move away from their families, and nobody wanted to move away from this great market in the middle of the country. Now we have the high taxation to individuals, and we have the violence that is getting worse and worse.” 

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year, Pritzker denied those claims, saying the state is attracting businesses like Kellogg to Chicago.

“I have worked with the General Assembly to strengthen the REV Illinois program by increasing tax credits to businesses locating in underserved communities and expanding program renewal options,” Pritzker said recently. “It’s another important reason companies like Manner Polymers, that manufacturers for the fast-growing EV and clean energy markers, are choosing Illinois.”

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said that multiple factors have contributed to Illinois population and job decline.

“We will never have the most jobs as long as we have the highest property taxes in the country. We will never have more jobs as long as we have the second-highest gas taxes in the country. We will never have more jobs if we have the biggest pension debt in the country, and we will never have more jobs if our home values continue shrinking relative to the rest of the country,” he said.

According to a 2021 study, Pritzker’s executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut “non-essential” businesses such as restaurants, bars, and certain retailers, resulted in the permanent closure of 35% of Illinois small businesses.

Illinois then passed a $580 million Business Interruption Grant Program to direct federal COVID-19 relief funds to affected businesses and later issued an extension on SNAP benefits, along with a freeze on gasoline and grocery taxes, as inflation soared to record highs in the pandemic’s wake.

The state has also been grappling with a perception of lawlessness when it comes to a rapid rise in retail crimes, shootings, and car thefts.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that Illinois had a higher increase in car thefts than any other state in 2022.

The CNBC hosts also asked Pritzker in Davos if the state’s new Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act (SAFE-T Act), which, under its Pretrial Fairness Act, abolishes cash bail, is a factor behind higher crime rates.

Pritzker answered that the policy “doesn’t mean you’re just letting the jail doors open.”

The SAFE-T Act was introduced by the Illinois Black Caucus as part of Black legislators’ response to the murder of George Floyd, an includes reforms for the rights of prisoners and other detainees, and other reforms law enforcement agencies must meet in order to meet state funding requirements.

Many Illinois law enforcement agencies have warned the act will embolden criminals and make it harder for police to keep offenders off the streets.

“Smash and grab” retail theft has also become an issue for businesses seeking to operate in Illinois.

Walgreens recently remodeled a downtown Chicago store in an effort to stop rampant shoplifting, locking most items behind a counter that can only be ordered via kiosk.

“Smash and grab” robberies have been an issue at malls and jewelry stores across the country, including Rockford.

Last year, Pritzker signed the INFORM Act, a retail theft crime bill aimed at leveraging higher punishments for criminals engaged in retail crime.

Many retailers have voiced concerns that theft is making it harder for them to meet operating costs.

Last month, Chicago police urged stores to install unbreakable glass shields over their existing windows, signaling to business owners that there simply weren’t enough police officers to deal with escalating crime.

Since 2019, a CBS News report found that about 3,300 Chicago Police officers retired, resigned, or were fired, and only 1,600 were hired.

Officers cited exhaustion and lack of support from public officials as their reasons for quitting.