Friday, April 18, 2014
 
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Extending federal unemployment would help 64,000 Illinois workers

86 percent still without work one month later

Veterans and older workers hardest hit

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[April 18, 2014]  CHICAGO When federal long-term unemployment benefits ended in December, 74,000 Illinois workers immediately lost their temporary help. One month later, 64,000, or 86 percent, still were without work, according to an Illinois Department of Employment Security analysis released April 14.

"This seriously undermines the perception that unemployment insurance discourages workers from finding employment," said IDES Director Jay Rowell. "You should look at this analysis as confirmation that reauthorizing emergency unemployment is a cost-effective way to help families stay in their homes and put food on their tables. But you cannot look at this and say that people don't want to work."

The U.S. Senate recently voted 59-38 for a proposal that would restore federal unemployment benefits for 2.8 million American workers. House leaders, however, have not committed to allowing a vote.

Veterans and older workers face the greatest challenges when looking for employment, the analysis showed. Of those younger than 25, 80.1 percent did not earn wages in January; of those between the ages of 25 and 34, 84.4 percent did not earn wages; and of those 54 or older, 90.5 percent did not earn wages. Additionally, 88.2 percent of veterans still were without wages 30 days after emergency unemployment ended.

An IDES anti-fraud initiative made the analysis possible. To stop workers from collecting unemployment while collecting a paycheck, Illinois lawmakers in 2012 authorized IDES to require employers to provide monthly wage reports. The data will ensure that individuals who collect a paycheck will not collect a benefit check. Illinois is the only state to require monthly wage reports to stop waste, fraud and abuse.

Of the workers collecting federal emergency unemployment when the program ended, 59.2 percent identified their race as white. Twenty-eight percent reported that they earned a high school diploma; 10.4 percent reported at least one year of college or vocational school; and 11.5 percent reported that they earned a college degree. Fourteen percent indicated that they did not graduate from high school.

Illinois' improving economy has meant fewer people collecting unemployment insurance. Illinois added 6,400 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate is the lowest since February 2009, during the heart of the national recession. Since January 2010, when job growth returned to Illinois following nearly two years of consecutive monthly losses, Illinois has added 257,000 private sector jobs.

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An additional sign of an improving economy is the number of help wanted job ads posted online. In March, there were more than 195,000 unique online job ads, and 85 percent sought full-time workers, according to the Conference Board's "Help Wanted Online" data. The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association. The data measures new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month on Internet job boards, corporate boards and smaller, niche websites.

Included in the data are more than 150,000 positions advertised on IllinoisJobLink.com, the state's hiring board, operated by IDES. Job seekers can build multiple resumes to emphasize different skills and experiences. Business owners can use keyword-matching technology to search resumes and find the best candidate. IllinoisJobLink is free for workers and employers. It compares favorably with private efforts that cost hundreds of dollars. No-cost human resources recruitment services for employers and workers are available on the website and by calling 877-342-7533.

The unemployment insurance program offers temporary support to workers who are out of work through no fault of their own. The average weekly benefit in Illinois is about $320. The maximum weekly family payment is $562. Emergency unemployment to the 74,000 individuals represents approximately $23.7 million in purchasing power each week. The unemployment insurance program also supports local businesses because benefit dollars are spent at local grocers, gas stations and clothing stores. Economic analysis shows that each $1 in unemployment insurance generates $1.63 in economic activity.

President George W. Bush signed the initial emergency unemployment program into law in 2008. Since then, 12 extensions have been authorized with bipartisan majorities. President Barack Obama has urged Congress to extend emergency unemployment through 2014.

[Text from Illinois Department of Employment Security file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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