Illinois missing opportunity created by hydraulic fracking

It's been five years since the Great Recession ended, but you'd never guess it by looking at Illinois' bleak economic statistics.

The state's unemployment rate sits at 7.1 percent. More telling is the fact that Illinois suffered its largest monthly workforce loss in recorded history in June. And a recent report shows that while the nation as a whole has recovered the nine million jobs lost in the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, Illinois has yet to come close to recouping its job losses.

Illinois has 184,000 fewer jobs than it did before the 2007 financial crisis, and the state's collective non-farm payroll is 3.1 percent below what it was in December 2007.

Only six other states have had a more sluggish economic recovery.

On the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota has seen its non-farm payroll increase an incredible 27.6 percent since December 2007, adding more than 100,000 jobs. Texas has added more than a million jobs and seen its non-farm payroll increase 9.5 percent.

Utah (4.7 percent collective non-farm payroll increase), Colorado (4 percent) and Oklahoma (3.2 percent) round out the top five in terms of growth.

Those states have one thing in common with Illinois: enormous fossil fuel reserves that can now be tapped thanks to technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

All of those states are different than Illinois in one way, however: They've all taken advantage of their potential, while the Land of Lincoln has remained in a self-chosen malaise. Read more in the Carmi Times.