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: 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.

Spotlight: How Are You Doing This Tax Season?

A brief ILEPI Economic Commentary, Illinois Income Report: How Are You Doing This Tax Season?, allows Illinois residents to see how they stack up against their counterparts across the state. While the economy has fully recovered from the Great Recession, economic outcomes for workers have only recently begun to improve. In Illinois, average worker earns $23 per hour and the median annual personal income is $32,000. The upper class of individual earners takes home $84,000 or more while the lower class earns $19,000 or less. Age, educational attainment, and various occupations are all correlated with improved economic outcomes for Illinois workers. However, middle-class occupations are shrinking as a proportion of the Illinois labor market while the lowest-paying jobs are growing the fastest.

Midwest Construction: VERY Productive Workers

In March 2015, the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) and University of Illinois jointly released Road and Bridge Construction Workers in the Midwest: Productive, High Skilled, and Well-Paid. The report finds that road and bridge construction workers each produce an average of $155,100 in economic value for the Great Lakes region, second only to their counterparts along the Pacific Ocean. Midwest construction workers also build highways up to 43 percent more efficiently than the national average. Construction workers across the Great Lakes region are well-compensated and can support a middle-class family. Road and bridge construction workers receive significant training in the Great Lakes states and, in turn, translate their increased human capital into higher levels of productivity for employers.

ICYMI: Fact-Checking Governor Rauner

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.

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. The Illinois Road Improvement and Driver Enhancement program should be implemented.

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