Analysis: Middle class faring better in Illinois than Wisconsin, Indiana or MichiganThose who hold up Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan as beacons of successful state economic policy may want to chew on a new report that shows the middle class is shrinking in those states faster than elsewhere in the nation.

That’s according to a Pew Charitable Trusts review of U.S. Census figures, the American Community Survey and other data between 2000 and 2013.

The percentage of middle-class households dropped nationwide, but Illinois is doing a better job of protecting the middle class than some of its Midwestern counterparts, the analysis shows. Middle-class households are struggling more in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan – each of which became right-to-work states under Republican governors during the period that Pew researchers evaluated.

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A recent study credits Illinois’ 2011 workers’ compensation reforms with now lowering average payments below neighboring Indiana’s.

The law passed four years ago cut fees by 30 percent, which led to a 15 percent drop in medical payments over a 12-month period that ended in Sept. 30, 2013. Workers’ compensation insurance rates also began to fall.

As a result, Illinois is seeing lower payments even as basic worker protections are upheld and Illinois workers, on average, make 27 percent more than their counterparts in Indiana.

Illinois is one of three states that showed declines in payment from 2010-11 to 2013-14.

Crain’s: Illinois workers' comp costs fall below Indiana, Wisconsin

Insurance Journal: Illinois Workers’ Comp Premium Rate High but Improving

Illinois vs. Indiana – Workers’ Compensation

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It is no secret that Illinois has some of the best universities in the world. With top ranked institutions such as The University of Chicago and The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois universities offer an unparalleled access to great education.

Recently, U-Chicago and U of I were named among the top 25 schools responsible for the greatest advances in science by US News college rankings.

The rankings are the culmination of a study that emphasizes lasting contributions to society; the primary focus being on science technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics.

The Illinois schools are among good company. Other institutions that made the list include Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford.

Shawnee National Forest

Illinois’ history is littered with famous accomplishments, including the first skyscraper, the first cell phone and dozens of other world-changing inventions. It is the home state of three American presidents and the birthplace of a fourth. It has a population in the millions and an economy that can compete on a global scale. However, all of these achievements are built on the state’s natural resources.

Wind, water, minerals, soil and plant life have all shaped the lives of Illinois’ residents, as has Illinois’ position at the crossroads of North America.

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How Texas and Indiana rely on Illinois union workers’ wagesA new academic study of state economies suggests there’s a hidden deduction lurking in Illinois union workers’ paychecks. Turns out anti-union states like Texas and Indiana overly rely on the federal taxes paid by union workers in other states to prop up their economies.

From the University of Illinois report …
While workers in right-to-work states account for just 37.4 percent of all federal income tax revenues, they receive 41.9 percent of all non-health, non-retirement government assistance, the paper says.

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