Illinois Governor Candidates Spar Over Jobs | NBC Chicago
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Illinois Governor Candidates Spar Over Jobs

Quinn lauds new state job numbers, Rauner claims people have stopped looking for work

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    9/18/2014: Gov. Pat Quinn is touting the falling unemployment rate, but Republican Bruce Rauner says it isn't enough. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014)

    Jobs took center stage Thursday in the heated campaign for Illinois governor.

    Gov. Pat Quinn is celebrating new numbers that show unemployment rates falling for the sixth month in a row, but his Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, says there's still a long way to go for the state to fully recover.

    The state's unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in August, an improvement over 9.2 percent at the same time in 2013. The rate stood as high at 11.4 percent in January 2010.

    "The recession obviously hurt a lot of people in our state, a lot of people lost their jobs, but we're coming back," Quinn said.

    But Rauner, who visited a job fair for veterans, suggested the job numbers are not all they seem.

    "One of the reasons unemployment rates have fallen is many thousands of families in Illinois have stopped looking for work," Rauner said.

    State numbers show that in the last year, 160,000 people came off the unemployment rolls, 123,000 found jobs and 37,000 left the workforce -- either retired, stopped looking for work or for other reasons.

    "The bottom line is, unemployment is down, jobs are up," Quinn said.

    Rauner says Quinn should have hired more veterans, not patronage workers at the Illinois Department of Transportation. As for his own record of hiring veterans, Rauner says he personally knows a number of veterans who have worked at his companies and companies he's invested in."

    Rauner also attended a fundraiser with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Thursday.

    "He's been a leader nationally on education reform and school choice. Florida has been a leader in high accountability standards," Rauner said.

    Bush was not made available to reporters. He's attending a fundraiser in Michigan next week, sparking more speculation that he's thinking about a presidential run in 2016.