Economy | WGLT


Elections this year all over the world have a common thread, including the Presidential contest here in the U.S.

That's according to political scientist George Gordon. Gordon is part of the leadoff lecture of the fall international seminar series at Illinois State University coming up at noon on Wednesday.

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Housing sales in Bloomington Normal appear to be reflecting the economy as a whole; growing over last year, but increasing slower than at this time last year.

Association of Realtors President Karent Stailey-Lander is pleased with the results through July.

Stefan Powell / Flickr

The latest Statistical Composite of the Peoria area Economy (SCOPE) report for April, May and June shows some ups and downs that, in effect, extend a level of consistency established in the first three months of the year.

The report is compiled by Bernard Goitein, Director of the Center For Business and Economic Research at Bradley University in Peoria. During Sound Ideas, Goitein said. Some of the highlights of this second quarter report:

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The first anniversary of the announcement of the closure of the Mitsubishi Auto plant in Normal is this weekend.

GLT is revisiting the several former workers we've followed since then.

BN Economic Development Council

The Bloomington-Normal economy continues to show signs of strength, but there are also areas of concern.

WGLT's Willis Kern finds out more in this interview with Aimee Ingalls of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council. This is in advance of Thursday's quarterly "BN By the Numbers" presentation, which will be held during the noon hour Thursday June 23 at ISU's Bone Student Center.

Chef shows off stuffed tomatoes
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

The local foods movement has come a long way in a short time with a bigger network of suppliers, making it easier for restaurants to source food within a 100-mile radius.  Now in its ninth year, a local flavors farm-to-fork series kicks off this month at The Garlic Press,  an Uptown Normal restaurant that was on the forefront of keeping it local.

Stability is the keyword to describe the Peoria area economy, at least for the first three months of 2016.

That's demonstrated by the quarterly SCOPE (Statistical Composite of the Peoria Economy) report. The report is issued quarterly by the Bradley University Center for Business and Economic Research.

In an interview during Sound Ideas, center director Bernard Goitein said the data show overall stability in local business conditions, as area residents and employers deal with a changing business environment, with declines found in some areas offset by growth in others.

Roger W. / Creative Commons

Heavy equipment-maker Caterpillar Inc. plans to put hundreds of jobs in Arizona with the selection of Tucson as the location of new consolidated offices for the company's mining and technology division. Illinois, Wisconsin, and other locations around the world will lose some jobs.

Vicky Hugheston / Creative Commons

Economic growth continues its slowdown, according to the University of Illinois Flash Index.

The measure of the state’s economy based on state tax receipts produced a reading of 104.7 in April. That’s the second month of consecutive declines, and the lowest reading since December of 2012.

Staff / WGLT

Illinois State University contributes about 7.5% of the McLean County. Hasan Mohammedi of ISU's economics department is one of the people who did a study that also shows direct and indirect employment from the University topping 8,900 jobs.

Education Focus Of Income Inequality Discussion

Feb 29, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Income inequality is affecting education in K-12 schools. Dr. Frank Beck, who is a Professor of Sociology at Illinois State University says students who worry about issues at home can lose focus in the classroom.

Pantagraph Owner Focuses on Lowering Debt

Feb 4, 2016
Karolina Grabowska / Flickr via Creative Commons

Despite a 7.2% increase in digital ad revenue for Lee Enterprises, the parent company of the Pantagraph, overall revenue fell 5% in the first quarter. In a quarterly release, Lee says other forms of electronic revenue also increased, with mobile ad revenue shooting up over 12%. Lee says just over 40% of those who subscribe to print papers are also E-paper subscribers. Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Ron Mayo says over the past year, debt was reduced by $80.5 million, total debt for Lee now stands at $678-Million. Mayo says Lee will dedicate it's free cash flow to paying down debt.

Brian Mackey / IPR

Governor Bruce Rauner is expected to use his executive powers to sign an order to create a privately run and funded state economic development agency. He says the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation will help create jobs. The former businessman has pushed the idea since taking office.

Brandi Michel / Facebook via Creative Commons

2015 was a good year for home sales in the Peoria area, right up until Caterpillar announced significant layoffs. Fourth quarter sales dropped noticeably.

The state budget standoff has scared away at least one hot prospect to buy the Mitsubishi auto plant in Normal. That's according to State Senator Jason Barickman. Barickman says the serious lead was a large Illinois manufacturer looking to expand. But, The GOP Senator says Illinois does not have a state budget, does not know when a budget might happen, and has no idea what the tax rate will be.

"That lack of predictability, the lack of stability that's offered to the business community is, I think, in sum, very detrimental to our efforts to attract a new Mitsubishi buyer."

Unemployment Jumps Upward

Dec 17, 2015
Mike Licht / Creative Commons

State officials say the unemployment rate sharply spiked in Illinois in November as more people started looking for work. The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that the jobless rate jumped 0.3 percent to 5.7 percent in November. It was the first increase since July 2014. The national unemployment rate was 5 percent in November. The report showed a 5.1 percent increase in the number of unemployed people looking for work in Illinois, to 371,700. That happened as the state added a net 400 jobs.

State Farm Insurance is raising its rates for auto coverage in Illinois. The 2.6% average hike goes into effect in February. It's the second time in less than 12 months State Farm has raised Illinois rates. April's increase was less than a percent. Even together, the two hikes are less than the increase most other insurers have announced. Allstate rates are going up 5.7%. Geico has increased auto premiums significantly as well.

Monster Pawn

The low unemployment numbers in Bloomington Normal do not reflect the entire economy. Another side often appears to the owners of Monster Pawn, Kathy and Ed Pierce.

Peoria Economic Report Shows Slow Growth

Dec 7, 2015
Bernard Goitein / Bradley University CBER

The new SCOPE, Statistical Composite Peoria Economy, report shows slow growth from a year ago but troubling signs ahead. Bernard Goitein of Bradley University is the author, he says the report does contain what at first seems a contradiction, more people are working compared to a year ago, but there aren't any more jobs.

Harvesting This 'Old House'

Dec 3, 2015
Jim Browne / WGLT

The city of Bloomington has a partner in its efforts to refocus resources and energy into maintaining and improving older neighborhoods. The Old House Society receives tips from the city on homes that face the wrecking ball, and members of the non-profit organization swarm like locusts in search of items worth saving. WGLT's Jim Browne went along on one recovery mission to see how it's done.

The Bloomington Normal unemployment rate edged under 5% last month. The 4.8% jobless rate is down slightly from a year ago. The Department of Employment Security says there were an estimated 4,800 unemployed people in the metro area looking for jobs. The last time the October rate was this low was in 2007 when it was more than a point below the current mark. There were job gains for the month in retail trade, and professional and business services and losses in government, construction, and manufacturing.

Rauner Reaches Deal With Some Unions

Nov 19, 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner has reached deals with SOME state worker unions ... but by no means ALL of them. Rauner's office trumpeted collective bargaining agreements with unions representing 500 workers. But there are still no agreements with a handful of other unions that collectively represent more than 40-thousand state workers. In a press release ... the administration blasts AFSCME, the state's largest public employee union, for its unwillingness to accept similar terms. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says trade unions have independent health care plans ...

Normal Lands Fast Pitch Tournament

Nov 5, 2015

The town of Normal's place as a center for competitive softball tournaments is further cemented with the announcement the Amateur Softball Association will hold it's 2017 Girls National Fast Pitch Championship here. The tournament will be July 30th through August 6, and about 150 teams are expected. The tournament is also an economic benefit, and will have an economic impact of over $1.5-Million, officials say.

Illinois' economy continues to grow, but at a slower rate than it was a few months ago, according to a monthly economic report from the University of Illinois. The U of I Flash Index fell to 105.8 in October from 106 in September. Though any number over 100 indicates growth in the state's economy, this is the third month of decline for the index.

IL Unemployment And Jobs Both Down

Oct 16, 2015

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the statewide unemployment rate fell in September but the state lost jobs. The department says in its monthly report unemployment fell to 5.4 percent in September. That was down from 5.6 percent in August but still higher than the 5.1 percent national rate. The department pointed out that Illinois lost a net 6,900 jobs in September. Department director Jeff Mays said the state's job growth is "dismal."  

A third consecutive overall index drop in a monthly rural bankers survey suggests an economic slowdown is ahead for rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states. The Rural Mainstreet Index sank to 44.4 this month from 49.0 in September and 50.0 in August. The overall index is computed from various economic category scores, and survey organizers say any score below 50 suggests that factor will decline.

Jim Browne / WGLT

The state of McLean County is not as good as it has been, but by working together area governments can get things back on track.  That common theme was presented by all four speakers at the annual Chamber of Commerce event. via Creative Commons

The Flash Index of the Illinois economy dropped half a point in September to 106.0. That’s the lowest level for the Index in 14 months.

University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz compiles the Flash Index from Illinois tax receipts. He says it’s too soon to know if the September drop is a one-time thing, or something worse.

Home Sales Slow Seasonally

Sep 16, 2015

More homes are changing hands compared to a year ago, according to the latest twin city numbers. So far this year, 1,911 homes sold. That's up more than a hundred from a year ago. The increase is nearly 6%.  Amanda Wycoff, president of the Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors, says inventory on the market is shrinking.

The price of a new home is about $325,000. That's a price decline of about 7% from a year ago. The price of an existing home is up slightly.