For Ill. Voters, It's Unemployment, Stupid

Barack Obama's Home State Grapples With High Unemployment Rates

For Illinois Voters, It's the Unemployment, Stupid Barack Obama's Home State Grapples With High Unemployment Rates

Let's be honest. Few people —if anyone — expect the blue state of Illinois to be clocked in the red or even purple column this November, primarily because Barack Obama , its new favorite son and senator, is running for the Oval Office and enjoys great popularity in his home state.

And while Barack may easily capture the land of Lincoln's 21 electoral votes, there is one issue with which the state is grappling that could be the deciding factor in voters' minds — unemployment. At a current rate of 7.2 percent, Illinois' unemployment rate rose from July to August and is at its highest level since June 1992, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those stats far outpace national numbers and the battle for jobs in the Prairie State has ignited an entrepreneurial spirit in some residents. They've decided to open their own small businesses to support their families.

Single father of three Bill Arnold is one of those people. When he lost his job a tool engineer, he had to get creative about how to bring in an income.

"My job was outsourced to Mexico. And I had a killer barbecue sauce recipe, and it's been marketing in stores all over the United States now," he said. "You've got a single parent like me trying to struggle to make a business work. I don't ask for a handout from anybody."

Arnold depends on the sales from his blue-ribbon prize-winning sauce for his family's livelihood and believes Republican John McCain would be better for small businesses than Obama.

McCain has said he would not raise taxes on small businesses while Obama's plans include raising taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 annually. That would affect an estimated 184,000 small businesses.

McCain also opposes forcing small-business owners to provide health insurance for their employees and Obama has said he would encourage, though not mandate, them to provide health insurance.

With just a little more than a month before presidential ballots are cast, at least in Illinois, it's still the economy, stupid, determining people's votes.

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