Illinois small businesses owners are grappling with the immediate challenge of worker availability, as well as the looming threat of tax hikes to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund, both of which pose significant threats to the short- and long-term viability of their businesses.
Recently, NFIB Illinois State Director Mark Grant and the heads of other major business associations penned and urgent letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker calling on him to take immediate steps to alleviate this crisis. In the letter, which can be read here, and in continuing comments to reporters and on social media, Grant makes the case for clear and actionable steps, such as using some of the billions of dollars in unused federal ARPA recovery funds to pay back Illinois’ immense federal Unemployment Trust Fund debt, heading towards $5 billion, instead of laying the burden on employers.
Last week, Grant also highlighted the results of the audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) by the Illinois Auditor General, which thus far uncovered widespread fraud and mismanagement in the state costing $155 million. The audit shows IDES gave money to the deceased, children, and people who never existed. Further, Grant pointed out that ARPA funds can be used to pay off UI Trust Fund debt, contrary to claims by the Gov. Pritzker. The U.S. Department of Treasury has issued rules that clearly state the funds can be used, and other states have already done so. Failure to do so will result in punishing and unjust tax hikes on small businesses.
Finally, the worker shortage continues to harm small businesses across Illinois and the nation. According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, small business owners reported a record high reading of unfilled job openings with 49 percent of owners reporting job openings they could not fill in July. Unfilled job openings have remained far above the 48-year historical average of 22 percent. Re-starting the work search requirement in Illinois for unemployed workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits, as 47 states have already done, and eliminating the $300 federal unemployment would facilitate significant reentries into the workforce. With tens of thousands of unfilled jobs in Illinois, now is the time for taking these common-sense steps.
NFIB Take-Action Alert: Click here to make your voice heard in Springfield!