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New Study finds Illinois energy industry provides jobs and economic opportunity

July 20, 2010
"John Lewis"

John Lewis

Chicago, Ill – The energy industry is a powerful engine in the Illinois economy, directly or indirectly producing 150,000 jobs and creating $80 billion in economic output, according to a groundbreaking study released today by the Illinois Chamber Foundation.

The study shows how important it is for Illinois to retain and attract well-paying energy jobs. The study, “The Economic Impacts of the Energy Industry in Illinois,” was conducted by the Regional Development Institute (RDI) at Northern Illinois University and includes these findings:

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs – Illinois’ energy industry directly employs more than 50,000 full- and part-time workers. In addition, the energy industry indirectly supports approximately 100,000 additional full- and part-time jobs as a result of energy industry operations.

Three times the impact of the automotive industry – Illinois’ energy industry annually creates $80 billion in direct economic output, three times as much as the automotive industry in Illinois.

Good jobs at good wages – While employing just 1.9 percent of the state workforce, the energy industry accounts for 2.75 percent of employee compensation – which means that energy jobs pay above-average wages to its employees.

Huge Taxpayers –The energy industry generates nearly $2.9 billion in federal taxes annually including corporate, personal, payroll and other taxes. The industry also has a significant impact on revenue to state and local government entities. The industry accounts for $2.3 billion annually in taxes to state and local units of government, which includes $1.1 billion in property taxes, $960.7 million in sales taxes, $115.2 million in corporate income taxes, and $152.9 million in personal income taxes.

Energy growth = economic growth – Growth in the energy industry brings tremendous benefits to the Illinois economy. When 100 employees are added to the energy industry, 249 additional jobs are created in the state. For every $100 million increase in output of the energy industry, state employment increases by approximately 180 workers and the wealth of the state increases by $425 million.

“As we look at possible economic engines that could propel Illinois’ economy for decades to come, we need to look no further than the energy industry,” said Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

“One of the most surprising aspects of the energy industry in Illinois was the level of employee compensation. The average in the energy industry is 50 percent higher than the state’s average,” said John Lewis, Ph.D., associate vice president of the Regional Development Institute (RDI) at Northern Illinois University. “

The study provides conservative estimates because it includes only operational jobs and not the economic impact of constructing the energy infrastructure in Illinois (i.e. power facilities, pipelines, transmission lines, office and administration buildings). In addition, the researchers were unable to measure with any reliability the economic impact of companies involved in improving energy efficiency and conservation.
“Billions of dollars will be spent on energy efficiency, generation and infrastructure in the United States during the next few decades and Illinois has the chance to become a leader in the 21st Century energy portfolio,” Whitley said.

“It’s up to our state’s business and political leadership to create a regulatory, legislative and economic environment that makes Illinois the destination for energy projects – from efficiency measures to research and development, from alternative energy advancements to the better use of today’s energy resources.”

To access the executive summary as well as the full content of the study, please go to and click on the Energy Council page.

About the Illinois Foundation
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation raises and expends funds for the purposes of financing and sponsoring, publishing, promoting and distributing research on issues important to businesses in Illinois. It also provides educational forums that facilitate the discussion of policy matters that impact Illinois businesses.

About the Illinois Chamber of Commerce
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce promotes the interests of Illinois business by working to improve the state’s business climate. The Illinois Chamber aggressively advocates legislation and public policies that support economic growth, and is a source of timely and reliable information on matters important to its members, Illinois employers and the general public. The Illinois Chamber also provides effective programs and services to its 3,500+ members to meet their business needs, including immediate answers to tax and human resources concerns and access to training and consulting services.

About the Regional Development Institute
The Regional Development Institute at Northern Illinois University specializes in applied research, policy analysis and technical assistance specifically in the areas of economic development, information technology and health care.