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ILLINOIS LEADS NATION IN PUMPKIN PRODUCTION AGAIN

Illinois Policy Institute/ Joe Kaiser

Leading the nation in pumpkin production is one of the few statistics Illinoisans can boast about in 2017.

Illinois is No. 1 again Ė for producing the most pumpkins in the U.S.

Survey data show Illinois harvesting more than 17,000 acres of pumpkin in 2016, up about 3,000 acres from 2015. The last census data on pumpkins, in 2012, showed just more than 16,000 acres harvested, with Tazewell County accounting for roughly a quarter of those acres. Mason, Wayne, Peoria and Stark counties also all had at least 1,000 acres of pumpkins harvested. The next three states with the most harvested pumpkin acres were New York at 4,452, Michigan at 5,997 and Ohio at 4,452 pumpkin acres as of 2012. Individually, New York, Michigan and Ohio didnít even have half the amount of pumpkin acres as Illinois as of 2012.

However, this is one of the few successful claims Illinois can make this fall as the year begins to wind down.

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While Illinois can brag about beating its Midwestern neighbors in pumpkin production, itís simultaneously losing residents and falling behind in jobs growth Ė the stateís out-migration rate is worse than all of its border states.

Recent months donít inspire much hope. August was the worst month for manufacturing jobs in Illinois since the Great Recession, and Illinois experienced a net loss of 10,800 jobs in September, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Topping the annual pumpkin rankings is a nice note for the Land of Lincoln, as it far exceeds the rest of the Midwest, but competing with our neighboring states in jobs growth and migration patterns will count for more. Lawmakers should get to work on pro-growth reforms that will help see Illinois as No. 1 for more than just pumpkins.

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