State to eliminate 7 unemployment offices, including Mattoon's, this spring

2013-01-14T10:52:00Z 2013-01-14T18:44:34Z State to eliminate 7 unemployment offices, including Mattoon's, this springBy KAYLEIGH ZYSKOWSKI, JG-TC Staff Writer JG-TC.com

MATTOON — The state has announced the closure of the Mattoon unemployment offices at 305 Richmond Ave. as of mid March.

A press release from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) stated that federal budget reductions and workloads have been affected as the economy starts to recover, leading to the decision to close seven offices across the state.

In all, the IDES will reduce staff by 192 positions and shutter offices in Centralia, DeKalb, East St. Louis, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Mattoon and Murphysboro. The IDES press release said decreasing federal dollars force the closures because the department is almost completely federally funded.

“A recession touches IDES in the exact opposite way that it touches the business community. In the private sector, cost-cutting decisions are required at the beginning of a recession. At federally funded IDES, cost-cutting occurs when the recession has ended and the recovery is moving forward," IDES Director Jay Rowell said in the press statement issued Friday. “This difficult decision reflects smaller federal discretionary spending and undoubtedly is unwelcome in many corners of our state. I hope it will encourage individuals not already doing so to consider accessing our services through the Internet. More than half of those applying for benefits do so electronically, and all eligible workers receive their benefit payments electronically through direct deposit or debit card.”

Closings are expected in mid-March based on several factors, including time needed to accommodate collective bargaining requirements. Positions in other offices across the state also will be impacted, the release said.

IDES’ funding is, in part, tied to unemployment insurance claim volumes. Falling claim volumes as a result of an improving economy are expected to reduce funding by $11 million, according to the press release. Although Congress reauthorized the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, a $7 million reduction is anticipated.

The largest public impact is expected to be on those who prefer face-to-face meetings because they are not comfortable using technology such as the Internet.

Gerry Schlechte, director of Workforce Investment Area operations at 80 Broadway Ave. in Mattoon, says the closure of the offices is a push for more people to use automated systems. He said people will lose the face-to-face interaction as the nearest offices now will be in Effingham or Champaign.

However, Schlechte said the Workforce Development Center facility offers computers and Internet connection for people to fill out unemployment applications online and other resources for those out of work.

The IDES press release said overcoming apprehension of the Internet is crucial to job readiness and successfully participating in today’s economy. Internet availability is not an insurmountable barrier because free access is available across the state at libraries, colleges and career counseling centers, according to the IDES

Answers to specific unemployment insurance questions are available at www.ides.illinois.gov or the call center, the press release stated.

IDES previously consolidated 10 offices, vacated 10 outpost locations shared with partners, and stopped scheduling 216 intermittent employees. Of those 10 offices, five were in Chicago and the others were in Evanston, Freeport, Litchfield, Mount Vernon and Pekin.

Officials at the IDES and the Mattoon unemployment office did not return phone calls Monday to answer questions from the JG-TC including how many state employees work in the Mattoon office and how many residents use the local facility.

Contact Zyskowski at kzyskowski@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6869.

Copyright 2015 JG-TC.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. gringa
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    gringa - January 15, 2013 9:51 pm
    Hary, here's a conservative position on helping the unemployed. Don't make a law that forces other people to share their income or assets with the unemployed. Instead, if you know people who are unemployed, you make a personal effort to give or loan them your own money to get by. That's far more efficient than having a huge bureaucracy (IDES) that eventually funnels money through the system so that only a portion of the money actually makes it way to the unemployed's pocket.
  2. Hary P
    Report Abuse
    Hary P - January 15, 2013 12:31 pm
    Not sure what an "idot" is but I've never mocked people who have lost their jobs. I was merely pointing out gringa's and the radio gasbags hypocrisy when it comes to unemployment compensation. If you followed these boards for a time you would see that I am a strong supporter of our safety net programs. It's conservative like gringa who bash them.I think your outrage is misdirected.
  3. mrybicki
    Report Abuse
    mrybicki - January 14, 2013 11:09 pm
    so, let me see, people who are out of work, not having enough money to begin with, are now to be forced going to champaign? hmm, gas money is always available hanging from the trees, right!, this is a bunch of crock, Illinois has a senator and states rep. who need to do something here. People need to start writing letters, forcing some of this bad decisions to be changed.
  4. gringa
    Report Abuse
    gringa - January 14, 2013 10:19 pm
    According to Nancy Pelosi, it's a good thing for the US economy to have people who are drawing unemployment benefits instead of holding down a job.

    Yes, right up there with her statement about having to pass the Obamacare legislation "... so we can see what's in it..."
  5. LOST CONFIDENCE
    Report Abuse
    LOST CONFIDENCE - January 14, 2013 9:05 pm
    Interesting, my original reply to Hary P disappeared. Who's running this forum?
  6. LOST CONFIDENCE
    Report Abuse
    LOST CONFIDENCE - January 14, 2013 8:45 pm
    Sir, anyone that has no concern for the unemployed is an idot. Only idealogs truely belive in class warfare. The more people that are unemployed means less people that have the ability to purchase goods and services. If there are unemployed people in a society then (while it is not the governments constitutional responsibilty) it is great that the society would provide a safety net and help to assist in helping those people aquire employment that will sustain them. Reality not croc. tears.
  7. Hary P
    Report Abuse
    Hary P - January 14, 2013 7:48 pm
    Your concern for the unemployed reminds me of similar phony remarks made by Rush Limbaugh. Crocodile tears at best.
  8. LOST CONFIDENCE
    Report Abuse
    LOST CONFIDENCE - January 14, 2013 7:09 pm
    Gringa, I have to agree. Notice how all of the offices closed are outside of the 312, 847,630 and 708 area codes.While you are correct that most UE stuff can be done online, I suggest you look at a map. How is someone in Ashmore supposed to fill out a claim if they do not have internet access or can't afford a library pass at the Carnegie Cathedral in Charleston?
    When unemployment is higher than it was during the "recession" how are these folks supposed to hit the safety net as they fall?
  9. gringa
    Report Abuse
    gringa - January 14, 2013 11:44 am
    Hmm, smells more like a purely political move rather than a purely economic move.

    A much more efficient way to curb IDES expenses would have been to not pass the recently extended unemployment benefits.

    I wonder if the details (to be released tomorrow) will include information on whether these IDES employees will be terminated, or reassigned? Reassignment, of course, would not save much money at all, now would it?
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