Chicago’s unemployment recovery near dead last for big cities

Chicago’s unemployment recovery near dead last for big cities


A national study ranked Chicago’s unemployment recovery 172nd out of the 180 most-populous U.S. cities. Lawmakers didn’t help when they imposed $655 million in new taxes on the state’s job creators.

A new study found the city of Chicago ranked No. 172 against the 180 largest U.S. cities for unemployment rates recovering after the national economy was shuttered for the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to WalletHub, the Second City’s unemployment recovery was among the worst at 9.3% in May. That was roughly a 140% increase from before the pandemic in January 2020 as well as from this May to May two years earlier.

The report analyzed the nation’s largest cities, plus at least one of the most populated cities in each state. The study ranked Manchester, New Hampshire, as the most-recovered with citywide unemployment decreasing 49.62% between May 2019 and May 2020, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Haileah, Florida, recorded the worst overall score after unemployment increased 335.87% in the same period.

The city of Chicago ranked 172nd overall across the four metrics, however, that standing dropped two places when comparing unemployment recovery specifically during the pandemic and preceding months. Los Angeles and New York City both ranked worse than Chicago.

Aurora was the other Illinois city examined in the study. It ranked 100 cities better than Chicago at No. 72 overall with a 5.7% unemployment rate in May.

While Chicago job seekers continued to struggle relative to residents of other big cities, state lawmakers June 1 passed another $655 million in new taxes on Illinois businesses – and still were unable to balance the state budget for the 21st year in a row.

A decade ago, Illinois leaders raised taxes at the onset of the recovery from the Great Recession. Tax hikes coupled with declining government services resulted in lower investment and sluggish productivity and employment growth, contributing to the state’s lackluster recovery relative to its peers.

It is hard to believe state leaders would repeat that mistake, but they again raised taxes on Illinoisans still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Why do they expect a different result?

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