Illinois Factory Shutdowns & Layoffs Devastate Workforce: 1000 Jobs Lost

While the job market seems to be in relatively good shape, some states are feeling the burn – Illinois being one of them. Here’s the full story.

Factories in Crisis

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In the last three months, factories in Illinois have been struggling.

Layoffs and Shutdowns

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There have been a lot of layoffs, and in total, four factories in the state have shut down.

Layoffs have affected over 1000 Illinoisans, and companies like Quaker Oats Company, Blommer Chocolate Company, Rivian, and Monterey Mushrooms have been impacted.

Economic Woes

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Factories have pointed to increased manufacturing costs and revenue losses as the culprit for these layoffs – all due to inflation.

It’s a trend that follows from 2023, which saw labor costs soar, materials spike in price, and energy bills go through the roof.

Quaker Oats’ Decision

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Quaker Oats announced that it would be laying off over 500 employees as it shifts its manufacturing process from its Danville facility to their other factories in states with cheaper costs.

Danville Dilemma

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Quaker had previously paused production at the factory in December due to a product recall. During that time, they undertook a review and found that the factory wasn’t meeting their needs. To meet future manufacturing needs, they would have to spend considerable time and money modernizing the facilities, a cost they couldn’t justify.

Danville Reacts to Quaker Oats Layoffs

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Quaker’s Danville factory has been open for 65 years, and local communities have rallied around the employees, who will be officially out of work effective June 8th.

In a press release, Quaker stated, “We do not make this decision lightly and recognize the impact it will have on our employees, their families, and the Danville community.”

Chicago Plant Closure

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Similarly, Blommer Chocolate Company notified state officials in late March that it was planning to close its plant in the Chicago Fulton River District. As of May 31st, 226 employees will lose their jobs.

The End of Blommer Chocolate

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Their reasons were similar to Quaker’s – growing maintenance and operating costs for the building and aging equipment have led to issues with meeting production demand.

Sweet Sadness

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Blommer’s Chicago factory opened in 1939 and was the original home of Blommer Chocolate.

Rivian’s Rocky Road

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Electric car manufacturer Rivian is also facing challenges in 2024.

After laying off 6% of its workforce in 2023 and a further 10% of its salaried employees in February 2024, the Amazon-backed firm announced a third round of layoffs in March.

Navigating Economic Uncertainty

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100 employees – just over 1% of the workforce – were made redundant at its assembly plant in Normal.

Amazon’s Troubled Investment

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Rivian reported a loss of $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023 and is trying everything possible to turn a profit on its electric vehicles, which retail for around $70,000.

The company’s stock price is down to around $11 a share –  a far cry from its $78 debut in November 2021.

Challenges Ahead

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Rivian’s founder wrote an email to staff stating, “Our business is facing a challenging macroeconomic environment – including historically high-interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty – and we need to make purposeful changes now to ensure our promising future.”

Bureau County Farm Closure

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After facing various challenges, Monterey Mushrooms closed its farm in Bureau County, resulting in around 300 employees losing their jobs.

Fungus Fallout

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The company cited various challenges, including the global pandemic, weather impacts, inflation, and shifts in market behavior, as reasons for the closures.

DePue’s Community Resilience

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This is another example of a community rallying around those who had lost their job, as local residents and school staff of DePue (a small village in Bureau County) organized a job fair in collaboration with local companies to help those newly out of work.

The Impact of Monterey Mushrooms’ Closure

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DePue is a village with close ties to the Monterey Mushroom factory, with nearly half of the households in the district having at least one family member employed at the factory.

A Beacon of Hope

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According to the school board president for the DePue district, the job fair helped save the community and the district.

Manufacturing Meltdown

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Over the years, the manufacturing sector in Illinois has seen a significant decline in employment.

From Boom to Bust

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According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 927,300 people were employed in manufacturing roles in February 1990, whereas in February 2024, the number decreased to approximately 581,000.

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