Ahead of Women's Equality Day on Wednesday, a new study shows Illinois is the third most equal state for women. But don't get too cheery over the findings, independent experts say.
WalletHub, the personal finance website, ranked all 50 U.S. states on gender equality in three areas: education, political empowerment and workplace environment. Illinois had the third best overall ranking, behind New York at No.2 and Hawaii at No. 1. Utah earned the worst ranking.
A leader with the Chicago-based advocacy group Women Employed was pleased to see Illinois come in third for women's equality. However, the ranking "doesn't mean things are primarily good for women in Illinois," stressed Women Employed's Associate Director Jenny Wittner.
"It just means that by certain measures (conditions are) better than other states," she said.
Young Illinois adults of color are facing significant disparities in employment, wages and educational attainment, a new report shows.
The Millennial research and advocacy group Young Invincibles put out the report, arguing that greater investments in higher education are key to closing the gaps.
"Creating more opportunities for people of color to attain higher education is a critical step towards addressing the striking disparities in employment and wages in Illinois and nationwide," Eve Rips, Midwest director of Young Invincibles, said in a statement. "With Illinois students paying some of highest tuition in the country, proposed cuts to higher education could further fuel racial disparities in education attainment."
The report authors say the Fed, the central bank of the United States, can help reverse wage stagnation and narrow gender and racial wage gaps through its monetary policy.
Most Americans have faced wage stagnation over the last 35 years, despite there being a 64.9 percent growth in productivity during this time, according to the report. Wage growth also remained sluggish last month, with average hourly earnings increasing only 2 percent in June from one year ago.
A move by the Fed to slow the economy with an interest rate hike before "genuine full employment" is achieved will "hamper the ability of workers' wages to rise," the authors wrote.
There are an estimated 76,000 post-9/11 veterans living in Illinois, a number that's expected to rise as more return home. Experts say these veterans face a multitude of challenges, including an economy with limited job openings.
The number of U.S. job openings reached a record high in May at nearly 5.4 million, but new hires were down slightly during that month. The rate of people voluntarily quitting their jobs, an indication of labor market strength, didn't budge in May either.
Job openings ticked up from 5.33 million in April to 5.36 million in May, representing the highest level since positions started getting tabulated in December 2000.
Despite a record number of job openings, new hires inched down a bit to 5 million in May from 5.03 million in April. The hiring rate slipped from 3.6 percent in April to 3.5 percent in May and "remains significantly below its pre-recession level," according to an analysis of the new survey by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C. think tank.