Illinois Economic Policy Institute

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute is a new nonprofit organization which supports research and provides timely, candid, and dynamic analysis on major subjects affecting the economies of Illinois and the Midwest, specializing in the construction industry. The Illinois Economic Policy Institute uses advanced statistics, reliable surveying techniques, and the latest forecasting models to evaluate and generate public policies that empower individuals, policymakers, and lawmakers to make a positive impact.

Latest Research: The State of the Unions in 2015

On May 18, 2015, researchers from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, the University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago jointly released The State of the Unions 2015: A Profile of Unionization in Chicago, in Illinois, and in America. The report finds that, even though the unionization rate has declined, the total number of union members in Illinois has increased from 800,000 in 2012 to about 830,000 in 2014. Union membership rates increased for male workers, young workers, construction workers, protective service workers, and the public sector in the past year (2013 to 2014). Furthermore, African-Americans and workers with master’s degree rank as the most-unionized demographic and educational groups. In the Illinois labor market, economic analysis reveals that the workweek of union workers is 2.3 hours longer than the equivalent for nonunion workers, and union membership raises the average worker’s hourly income by 11.9 percent on average. The report also discusses recent political developments in Illinois and how they might impact union workers. Labor unions continue to play a vital role in Illinois’ economy, communities, and social life.

A Smoother Path: The I-RIDE Proposal

A recent ILEPI Policy Brief proposes a smart, reliable policy to fund transportation infrastructure for the modern world. The Illinois Road Improvement and Driver Enhancement (I-RIDE) program is a road user fee for each mile traveled by a vehicle in Illinois. Utilizing a public-private partnership agreement, the I-RIDE allows Illinois motorists to choose their own pay-as-you-drive plan through various technologies. Depending on the rate schedule, the I-RIDE allows the state to bring its roads, bridges, and rail lines back up to acceptable levels of quality or to create the highest-class infrastructure in the nation. The I-RIDE would increase infrastructure investment funds by $2.6 billion annually for the state and would support over 31,000 new jobs every year under “full capacity” rates. The I-RIDE allows the state to be a global leader in smart, comprehensive infrastructure investment policies that grow the economy, alleviate traffic, and modernize transit.

MAY 2015 UPDATE: The “Research” page includes all materials for the I-RIDE proposal, including Version 2.0 of the Policy Brief, a breakdown of new local transportation allotments under full capacity rates in Economic Commentaries, and a slideshow outlining the proposal under Policy Presentations.

Spotlight: Local Right-to-Work Zones

On April 6, 2015, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois jointly released The Impact of Local “Right-to-Work” Zones: Predicting Outcomes for Workers, the Economy, and Tax Revenues in Illinois. The report investigates the economic and policy impacts of adopting local “right-to-work” laws in Illinois. The study evaluates the 102 counties in Illinois and finds that higher union membership rates have no discernible impact on employment growth, establishment openings growth, or average household income growth. The analysis also concludes that, if half of Illinois’ counties adopted “right-to-work” ordinances, total labor income would fall by $1.3 billion, the state economy would shrink by $1.5 billion, state and local tax revenues would be reduced by $80 million, and racial and gender income inequality would both increase. Local right-to-work zones would eradicate good middle-class jobs, replacing them with low-wage employment openings and empowering wealthy owners at the expense of employees, the middle class, and taxpayers.

ICYMI: Fact Check of Governor Rauner’s Claims

On February 10, 2015, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute released A Turnaround or a Turn Aground? Fact Checking Governor Rauner’s First Claims. The report analyzes eleven claims made by new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner during his first month in office. Of the eleven claims, two were found to be “true,” three were rated as “only half true,” and six were deemed to be “false.” Governor Rauner has utilized incorrect or discredited data, told incomplete stories that provide misleading conclusions, and has succumbed to ideological misconceptions in the areas where his statements are untrue. Contrary to the Governor’s statements, the people of Illinois deserve high-road economic development policies which attract business activity through the development of people, infrastructure, and accountable governments.

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