Business group says employers still waiting for relief on workers’ compensation costs

A report from Oregon shows that workers’ compensation costs are falling in Illinois, but a manufacturing group said employers here have yet to see any savings.

The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association heralded a report this week from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services that ranked Illinois workers’ compensation costs at the 22nd highest in the nation, down from the eighth highest.

The lawyers group said that’s good news for Illinois.

“For several years our high ranking in the Oregon Premium Rate Survey … has been used by the business community and lawmakers as a reason Illinois needs to enact further reforms in the workers’ compensation system,” the association said in a post. “However, according to the recently released 2018 Oregon Premium Rate Ranking Summary, Illinois has now moved from 8th highest in 2016 to 22nd highest in 2018, which is one of the largest drops in the country.”

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s Mark Denzler said while the industry group has seen the Oregon report, the state’s employers haven’t seen the savings.

“We talk to companies on a daily basis who actually pay workers’ comp and write the checks for it and they have not seen significant reductions in workers’ compensation costs,” Denzler said.

The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association said the reason employers aren’t saving money is because insurance companies aren’t passing those on to businesses.

Denzler said that’s not the case.

“If the insurance companies were truly hoarding the money, so to speak, you’d see significant savings among self-insured companies and we are not seeing that,” Denzler said.

Denzker said despite the Oregon report, Illinois still has among the highest workers’ compensation rates in the Midwest and that hurts the state’s competitiveness.

“We’ve seen a manufacturing renaissance across the country but while we’ve only added about 18,000 [manufacturing] jobs since the recession ended in 2009, our neighboring states have added an average of 68,000 jobs, so almost four times as many jobs as Illinois,” Denzler said. “We face the same national headwinds, the same global issues, largely state policies that are creating roadblocks for manufacturers in Illinois.”

This article was first published by Illinois News Network.

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