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Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
February 5, 2008
DeKalb, Ill. — Declines in the manufacturing sector, growth in the service sector and the not-as-yet-understood impacts of the global economy are transforming the Illinois economy, altering the employment landscape and reducing the buying power of Illinois households.
Those were among the conclusions of the annual State of Working Illinois report by Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies and the NIU Office for Social Policy Research. The university once again partnered with the independent, bipartisan, non-profit Center for Tax and Budget Accountability to create the report.
The report is the latest in a series of comprehensive examinations of the Illinois economy. The project team was assembled three years ago with the goal of providing a definitive set of numbers for use by policy makers and advocacy organizations working to improve the Illinois economy.
“For too long, when people debated the state of the economy in Illinois it turned into an argument over whose numbers were the most reliable,” says Robert Gleeson, director of the Center for Governmental Studies. “We strive to create an independent and accurate assessment of economic trends so that policy makers can spend their time debating what to do about those trends, rather than how to define them.”
It is a task that CGS and the Office for Social Policy Research are uniquely qualified to handle, thanks to a combination of intellectual firepower and an ability to translate complex data into a form that is useful to policy makers.
“Paul Kleppner (director of the OSPR) has spent his career analyzing large datasets in order to understand how important trends affect the lives of working people,” explains Gleeson. “On the other side of the equation, CGS team members Sherrie Taylor and Ben Xu work with policy makers on a daily basis. We understand how to present data in a way that helps them make informed decisions.”
Just as importantly, CGS and OSPR bring to the process reputations for academic integrity. “We aren’t advocating solutions, we just want to ensure that the data are accurate,” says Gleeson.
The 2007 report was presented at a conference in Chicago at the end of November. A series of follow up papers examining various aspects of the findings in greater detail will be released in the summer and fall of 2008.
Among the major findings of the 2007 State of Working Illinois report were:
The complete State of Working Illinois report is available online at: www.stateofworkingillinois.niu.edu.
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