Rauner says texas is more union job friendly than illinois politifact illinois electricity flows through

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In 2017, while Illinois saw a modest gain in its unionized workforce, Indiana lost more than 37,000 union jobs, according to data from Unionstats.com, a long-running tally of federally compiled employment numbers for union workers created by professors at Georgia State University and Trinity University.

A Rauner spokeswoman did not respond to our questions about why the governor in his recent talk stressed comparisons with Texas and not Indiana or other neighboring right-to-work states. She did, however, point us to U.S. Census Bureau data showing that Texas in 2017 added more than 52,000 private-sector union jobs while Illinois lost over 9,000. The distinction between private-sector versus total union jobs, however, was not one made by Rauner during the event.

Robert Bruno, director of the the labor education program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said it’s important to bear in mind the vast difference in scale between Illinois and Texas, which has more than twice the population and more than twice the overall workforce.

Indeed, less than 5 percent of the total Texas workforce is comprised of union members, a share no higher than it was a decade ago despite growth in the number of union jobs, according to Unionstats. In Illinois, the comparable figure was 15 percent, up slightly over the last decade.

"Your chance of finding a union job is going to be much greater in a state that has twice the percentage of union employers, twice the percent of union members and one half the size of the labor force than if you jump into this enormous pool in Texas," Bruno said.

Michael Hicks, an economics professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., said Texas’ gains in manufacturing employment are largely a byproduct of its booming energy sector, an artifact of geological luck that Illinois and most other states can’t match. And energy jobs also tend to pay more than other manufacturing jobs.

His office sent us data indicating Texas grew more union jobs, and at a faster clip, than did Illinois. It also pointed to federal data showing manufacturing workers in Texas made $100 more per week on average than their Illinois counterparts.

But such numbers belie the fact that Illinois couldn’t be Texas if it tried. The more populous state has grown its manufacturing — and therefore, its union — jobs thanks to a booming economy that’s received a major boost from its oil and gas industry, something Illinois thanks to its geography and geology simply doesn’t have.

And despite a stalled economy in Illinois, union workers still make up a greater share of the workforce in Illinois than they do in Texas, which, according to labor expert Robert Bruno, is a more accurate indicator of employment opportunity for those seeking a union job.

Rauner’s claims about union jobs growth and pay disparities in the manufacturing sector pencil out on paper. But his selective use of data leaves out important context and distorts trends far more nuanced than he describes. For that reason, we rate the governor’s assertions Half True.