Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wisconsin vs Illinois: who's really doing worse?

Illinois outpaces Wisconsin in several economic indicators

We consistently hear Gov. Scott Walker or his supporters spouting off how much "worse" things are in Illinois. Things south of the border, so they say, are so horrible, so backwards, that it seemingly justifies everything Walker has done thus far in his short tenure in office.

The problem with those assumptions, however, is that they're just plain wrong: economically speaking, Illinois is doing much better than the state to its north, Wisconsin, at least on issues that directly affect each states' citizens.

For example, looking to our projected economic futures, Wisconsin isn't faring too well when compared with Illinois. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ranks states based on several indicators to predict what will happen over the next six months. Wisconsin is projected to see a growth of 1.95 percent -- an increase to be sure, but one that arguably doesn't even keep pace with population growth for the state. Illinois's economy, on the other hand, is predicted to grow by 2.52 percent, a rate that's above the 2.17 percent the rest of the nation is set to see.

On this issue, Illinois isn't just doing better than us -- they're projected to do better than the rest of the nation on average. Wisconsin, meanwhile, remains left behind (a position we've become accustomed to under Walker's watch).

Personal income growth during the last year is also an area that Illinois is doing better than Wisconsin on. In 2010, our state was ranked 24th in the nation while Illinois was ranked 15th. In 2011, those rankings changed, but in opposite directions -- Illinois improved to 14th while Wisconsin sank to 25th.

On personal income, then, we're going backwards while our neighbors to the south are moving forward (PDF). (H/T to Jake's Economic TA Funhouse)

But the most noticeable changes, of course, are the total jobs the two states have accumulated over the past year. On this, Scott Walker's vision for Wisconsin has been an utter failure: since he's taken office, the Badger State has lost over 7,500 jobs, the worst in the country. Illinois, on the other hand, has gained significantly, by more than 42,400 jobs over the same time period.

On job creation, too, we're being surpassed by our "flat-lander" cousins.

To be sure, Wisconsin is doing better than Illinois in other areas. For example, our rank in tax burdens on the average citizen is better than that of our neighbors' (though Wisconsin only fares better by a small amount, by a ranking of 9th place versus 10th). And when looking at the debt each state holds, Wisconsin's debt per person over 18 is roughly $687 while Illinois is about $853.

Still, taxes don't necessarily affect things like job growth or population migration, especially on the wealthy (as a new study suggests); and the budget isn't balanced in any way as described above -- that is, every person's share isn't equal to everyone else's, so burdens may be greater or less dependent upon what economic class you belong to in each state (indeed, Illinois's income taxes are lower than Wisconsin's).

In short, on issues that matter for the economy overall, Illinois is doing significantly better, especially in the time AFTER Walker took office.

Projected economic growth is better in Illinois than it is in Wisconsin; additionally, the Land of Lincoln is better in personal income growth, as well as job creation, too. So when Gov. Walker says he's going to run on his record -- especially when he touts himself as doing a better job than our state's southern rival -- he's full of hot air.

Illinois is outpacing our governor's performance. Walker's just hoping he can spout off enough rhetoric for you to ignore that fact.


  1. "Still, taxes don't necessarily affect things like job growth...

    Sir, you're full of shit. I'm a small business owner in Illinois (unfortunately), and the state & Crook County taxes here are absolutely crushing my business as well as my ability to hire new employees. Go ahead and continue to "spout off" your bullshit. DO you ever read what you write? You sound like a jackass...

  2. I live in "crook" county also and I agree 100% Illinois is shot