Recently I stood at the podium of the City Club of Chicago and gave voice to the thousands of manufacturing companies across our great state who are angry and frustrated with government. There is great irony in the fact that government leaders are trying to tell successful business leaders how to operate when those politicians can’t even run their own shops.
I asked attendees including many elected officials to remember one thing as they left the event: manufacturing job numbers in Midwest industrial states since June of 2009.
Michigan added 171,300 manufacturing jobs.
Indiana added 83,700 manufacturing jobs.
Ohio added 75,900 manufacturing jobs.
Wisconsin added 44,100 manufacturing jobs.
Illinois added 4,600 manufacturing jobs.
All told, since the turn of the century, Illinois manufacturers have shed more than 300,000 jobs. These are not faceless statistics. Every one of those workers has a name, a family, hopes and dreams.
Manufacturing is the middle class and there is a direct connection between the loss of our middle class economy and the downturn in manufacturing employment. I called on all elected leaders to embrace a “Middle Class Manufacturing Agenda” that includes five simple items to create stability and predictability:
- Get the state’s fiscal house in order including reigning in the $100 billion pension debt and $10 billion backlog of bills.
- Real and meaningful workers’ compensation reform.
- Comprehensive tax reform to create a fair tax system with low rates and a broad base that incents manufacturing in Illinois. Imposing higher and higher taxes on a smaller sector of the economic is not sustainable.
- Property tax relief.
- Education and workforce development to ensure that manufacturers have access to a skilled workforce.
Illinois job numbers are abysmal. It’s time for a change in philosophy and direction from our policymakers.
It’s time to get mad as hell and not take it anymore.