News about Illinois' economy is typically bleak, but at least one outside observer is seeing modest improvement.
Moody's Analytics is changing Illinois' rating from "at risk of recession" to "recovery."
Moody's economist Steven Cochrane said the change is mostly due to an improvement in the economy in and around Chicago.
Cochrane said the housing market is picking up, and the big service- and finance-based companies in Chicago are hiring.
He also said some of the big manufacturing companies downstate could see a rebound in exports to Europe, China, and Latin America.
“So things, I think, finally are looking a little bit better for Illinois than we've seen in quite some time,” said Cochrane.
He said there will continue to be one significant drag in Illinois: state government. He said pensions and other long-term budget problems could prevent it from growing at even the modest pace of the broader Illinois economy.
And despite the improvement, Illinois’ unemployment rate is the second worst in the nation. Only Nevada’s rate is higher.