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The State of Illinois Manufacturing

December 1, 2003

The strength of the manufacturing sector is fundamental to the overall economic performance of Illinois and the U.S. as a whole. The manufacturing sector in Illinois create large numbers of jobs that pay high wages to workers, purchases more goods and services from within the state than any other sector, and constitutes a main component of the state export economy. For these and other reasons, manufacturing needs be at the center of all government discussions on economic policy.The Center for Labor and Community Research (CLCR) was commissioned by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association to analyze the condition of the Illinois manufacturing sector. We found that Illinois manufacturing is essential to Illinois' economy, and although it is among the top manufacturing states in the country, it faces a number of challenges. This report demonstrates why and how Illinois manufacturing matters, explains the current challenges it faces, and recommends actions to overcome some of these challenges. In addition to looking at manufacturing as a whole, this report looks at four key manufacturing sectors, or clusters, that together account for 64% of manufacturing employment in the state. These are the metals, electrical, printing, and food manufacturing sectors.A few key findings that CLCR uncovered in this study include the following: Manufacturing is vital to the state's economy and workers. Manufacturing exports create significant employment opportunities in Illinois, and the state's manufacturing workers are the most productive in the nation by far.Like other U.S. states, Illinois faces increasing competition from low-wage producers in the developing world as well as from highly skilled producers in developed countries. In order to remain competitive into the future, the sector requires increased investments in its infrastructure and workers and an improved workforce development system in order to increase the value-added component of their products.The Illinois manufacturing sector needs a "High Road" partnership with government and labor to increase investment in infrastructure and workforce development, to support the sector by creating specialized service centers that provide assistance to Illinois companies, and to effectively using public subsidies to reward and assist those companies that are pursuing High Road strategies of innovation and development.

Creating a Manufacturing Career Path System in Cook County

December 1, 2001

Cook County manufacturers create more than 10,500 new or replacement jobs annually -- jobs generally offering good wages and benefits. But Cook County's education and training system does not provide adequate numbers of skilled people to fill those jobs, even though large numbers of area residents, particularly youth and those living in our poorer communities, are eager for opportunities for work.All told, there are some 404,000 manufacturing jobs in Cook County. All of them are being put at risk by our failure to ensure that regional manufacturers can count on finding workers with the right skills to fill job openings. How we close this and other gaps in our workforce education and training system will determine whether or not we will retain, sustain and develop the tremendous power of our manufacturing sector. Cook County faces a crisis in training and education for our manufacturing economy. We have important decisions to make.

Building the Bridge to the High Road

January 1, 2000

Building the Bridge to the High Road takes a hard, critical look at economic, political and social reality. While rejecting traditional redistributionist, socialist, social democratic and neo-liberal capitalist prescriptions, Dan Swinney instead proposes a "High Road" strategy that sounds at times radically left, at other times radically right. The truth is that the High Road strategy is a synthesis, adopting the best practices of competing ideology-based strategies. Forged by research and study, tempered by wide and deep experience, the High Road offers a plausible solution to the malaise of late industrial society. Swinney's work has centered on the United States but has global applicability.