By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
One area Illinois Department of Employment Security office is slated for closure and seven in all will be closed by mid-March, IDES officials announced Friday.
Offices slated for closure include Centralia, DeKalb, East St. Louis, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Mattoon and Murphysboro.
According to an IDES news release, the closures are based on “mounting federal budget reductions.” Federal funding reductions require the decision because IDES is nearly 100 percent federally funded.
The closings are based on several factors, including time needed to accommodate collective bargaining requirements. Positions in other offices across the state also will be impacted — including the office in Mt. Vernon — although IDES officials aren’t saying to what extent right now.
“It’s too soon to tell what’s going to happen to individuals in each specific office,” IDES Communications Director Greg Rivara said Friday. “Right now, we’re just letting the press release stand on its own in respect to the labor bargaining agreement.”
Funding for the agency is tied to unemployment claim volumes. Falling claim volumes as a result of an improving economy are expected to reduce funding to the state by $11 million.
“A recession touches IDES in the exact opposite way 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,” stated IDES Director Jay Rowell. “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 considering 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.”
To begin to address these budget challenges, IDES already consolidated 10 offices, vacated 10 outpost locations shared with partners, and stopped scheduling 216 intermittent employees. Of the 10 offices, five were in Chicago, and the others were in Evanston, Freeport, Litchfield, Pekin, and Mt. Vernon, IDES officials state.
The agency can be accessed online at www.ides.illinois.gov.