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: Apprenticeship Programs Boost Illinois’ Economy

A new report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois finds that apprenticeship programs have significant positive social and economic impacts in Illinois. For every dollar invested, the programs return nearly $11 in total benefits to workers and the state economy. The programs benefit employers by addressing skills shortages through a supply of safe, productive workers. Funded almost entirely through partnerships between employers and labor unions, apprenticeship programs in construction also benefit the public by ensuring high-quality infrastructure and products, growing the state economy by $1.25 billion over the long run, and improving the budgets of state and local governments.

Our Infrastructure: Vote YES for Safe Roads

The Safe Roads Amendment would constitutionally protect– or “lockbox”– all revenue contributed by drivers through motor fuel taxes, tollways, licenses, and vehicle registration fees and require that the money is used solely for transportation purposes. This common-sense measure promotes taxpayer fairness, government accountability, and economic growth. Since 2002, Illinois lawmakers have diverted $6.8 billion in transportation funds to purposes other than transportation. These diversions have had a negative impact on the state economy and have resulted in poor infrastructure. Illinois politicians have wasted tax dollars on bureaucracy and mismanagement for too long. The Illinois Economic Policy Institute urges the public to vote Yes on the Safe Roads Amendment.

Our Economy: Attacks on Prevailing Wage Hurt Veterans

A first-of-its-kind, peer-reviewed study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute finds that prevailing wage greatly improves economic outcomes for veterans. The study finds that prevailing wage laws pull thousands of veterans out of poverty each year. Utilizing economic modeling, the report also finds that if each of the states with average or strong prevailing wage laws enacted repeals, 24,000 veterans would lose their health insurance, another 65,000 would leave the construction workforce, and nearly 8,000 veteran-owned construction businesses would shut their doors.

Our Jobs: The State of the Unions 2016

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Midwest Economic Policy Institute have released a series of The State of the Unions 2016 reports. The reports cover Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The Illinois report finds that the number of union members in Illinois has increased by about 47,000 since 2013. African-American workers, individuals with master’s degrees, and military veterans rank among the most-unionized socioeconomic groups in Illinois. Labor unions also increase worker incomes by lifting hourly wages, particularly for low-income workers.

Our Workers: Low Minimum Wages, High Rents

A minimum-wage employee working full time cannot afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, or Iowa. In all five Midwestern states, the minimum wage should be at least $10.00 an hour to ensure workers the most basic standard of living. A minimum wage of at least $10.00 an hour would make housing affordable in about half of the counties in the region. In Illinois, the average wage needed to afford a one-bedroom rent is $16.36 per hour for a full-time employee. A minimum wage of at least $15.00, therefore, may be appropriate in certain Illinois counties.

Our Budget: Illinois Cannot Afford Corporate Welfare

Illinois currently dishes out $142 million per year in subsidies to retailers like Wal-Mart through its “retailer’s discount” program. The program allows retailers to keep a portion of the sales tax they collect on behalf of state and local governments as compensation for collecting taxes. Illinois has one of the highest subsidy rates in the nation. This redistribution of tax revenues from the government to retail businesses may have made sense decades ago, but the tax collection and transferal process is now almost completely automated. By lowering the rate from its current level of 1.75 percent to the 0.50 percent rate of neighboring Wisconsin, Illinois could save over $100 million per year. Simply put, the retailer’s discount is a generous corporate welfare program that Illinois can no longer afford.

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