The Monitor

Illinois' $1 Trillion Economy

Fall/Winter 2022

Illinois now produces $1 trillion in annualized economic activity. A new report by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that the state first crossed the $1 trillion threshold in the first quarter of 2022, according to quarterly estimates from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Illinois is just the fifth state to reach the $1 trillion mark, following California, New York, Texas, and Florida. If Illinois were its own country, it would have the 19th-largest economy in the world – bigger than countries like Poland, Turkey, and Sweden.

This historic achievement reveals the strength of Illinois’ businesses and the superior productivity of Illinois’ workers. It also solidifies that the state is the economic engine of the Midwest. Illinois’ position as a transportation hub at the heart of the U.S. has been a cornerstone of putting it in the lead of neighboring states. In fact, Illinois’ second quarter estimates shows that Illinois has an economy that is about 20% higher than Ohio ($818 billion economy) and more than double that of Indiana ($452 billion).

As the transportation hub of the Midwest, Chicago has the largest rail transit hubs in the middle of the nation. In recent years, Illinois has taken large steps toward even more infrastructure investment that have stimulated the economy. Infrastructure modernization is not an expense, but an investment. While many other states have overlooked their infrastructure for decades, Illinois has taken major steps toward the improvement of our roads, bridges, utility lines, telecommunications networks, and other basic needs of the people and businesses who call Illinois home. The state’s commitment to making necessary infrastructure investments is one of the main reasons why Illinois now has a $1 trillion economy.

The historic 2019 Rebuild Illinois capital program invested $45 billion over six-years across the state. The program was developed to address decades-long maintenance and modernization backlogs to the state’s roads, bridges, transit systems, schools, water, and broadband systems. Revenues from motor fuel taxes (MFT) and an expansion of gaming operations represented the single largest new revenue sources for the program.

Investing in infrastructure creates jobs, but it also supports local businesses and creates a business-friendly environment. Well-maintained transportation infrastructure is important for businesses to thrive as goods and services are more easily accessible to all. In addition, the modernization of roadways, transit systems, airports, and waterways – along with updates to the energy grid, high-speed internet capabilities, drinking water infrastructure, and affordable housing – are essential to building a high quality of life for current and future generations of Illinoisans.

But while Illinois remains the economic engine of the Midwest, we still need strong leaders who will continue supporting infrastructure investments that create goodpaying jobs for Illinois workers and contractors. It took 200 years for Illinois to achieve a $1 trillion economy. By continuing to make the necessary investments in road, bridge, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure, the state will maintain a competitive advantage in the Midwest, which will help Illinois reach a $2 trillion economy much faster.