A new program called Southern Illinois Works will enhance employment opportunities in some 20 Illinois counties. Southern Illinois will benefit from a $250,000 National Emergency Grant to boost training and development in 20 counties.
Days ago, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the grant to establish Southern Illinois Works (SI WORKS), a program to promote employment in the largely rural southern half of the state. While Northern Illinois, including the vibrant Chicago area, has a rosy employment outlook, workers have often struggled to find well-paying jobs in the southern part of the state.
“Talent development strategies that are focused regionally, rather than locally, expand workers” employment and advancement opportunities,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “The SI WORKS team will identify and target growing industries’ competency and skill needs, and design talent development strategies to educate and prepare Southern Illinois’ workforce to succeed in the 21st century economy.”
The U. S. Department of Labor grant was officially awarded to the Southern Illinois Workforce Investment Board to support the creation of SI WORKS, a new strategic partnership. SI WORKS will help laid-off workers to quickly transition into new jobs, often providing the training for them to move into new industries.
The mission of SI WORKS is to develop plans to establish an innovative regional economy that is competitive with that in other parts of the state. The program will accomplish this by creating a “robust healthcare system that utilizes the area’s talent and growing population.” SI WORKS will work to reduce plant closures and employee lay-offs, and minimize the impact when they do occur.
This grant is made possible through the Regional Innovation Grants program designed to assist state workforce agencies and local workforce investment boards, and their strategic partners, in the design and development of regional strategic plans. The mission of the programs is to develop workforce talent to meet the demands of the economy in the 21st century.
This was just the most recent of a series of National Emergency Grants awarded by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. In September, a $3 million grant went to provide temporary jobs and benefits to workers in parts of Minnesota ravaged by flash floods.
More than 400 workers laid off by Micron Technology, Inc. in Boise, Idaho received assistance through a grant of more than $2 million. The U.S. Department of Labor immediately released $847,538 of the grant to assist workers dislocated by the layoffs. The total grant is for $2,010,277.
“This $2 million grant will provide these Idaho workers with skills training, career counseling and other employment services to help them find and succeed in new jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a grant of more than $1.2 million to assist some 246 Rhode Island workers who were displaced by layoffs at the Brooks Eckerd corporate offices in Warwick. The layoffs are due to acquisition of Brooks Eckerd by Rite Aid.
Two grants totaling more than $1.94 million went to benefit workers in Massachusetts and Missouri. The emergency grants helped provide a number of job resources to workers who are unemployed due to plant closings. In addition, the DOL has ruled that these workers are eligible for additional assistance under TAA, the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
Regional Innovation Grants are a part of the National Emergency Grant program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, National Emergency Grants (NEG) are discretionary awards by the Secretary of Labor. The grants temporarily expand service capacity at the state and local levels through time-limited funding assistance in response to “significant dislocation events.” When a layoff, plant closing or other event creates a need beyond what the state can reasonably be expected to meet, the state may apply for an Emergency Grant. In order for a state to qualify, any discretionary funds available at the state level must be included in the state’s resources.
As with all of the other state systems that we have looked at so far, the Illinois unemployment insurance system is meant to make sure that thousands of workers who are laid off every year have a safety net to protect them and their families until they can find their next paycheck and job. Ultimately, this system also helps businesses and employers, because the unemployed workers spend that money at local stores and shops, and thus keep everybody in business.
Employers not only benefit from the system. They are also integral in keeping the system up and running. Employers first and foremost in the state of Illinois pay the unemployment taxes that fund the system and eventually get doled out to all of the state unemployed workers. Did you also know that as an Illinois employer, you are also paying the federal taxes that are used to pay for the administration and day to day activities of the unemployment system in your state.
A third role that you employers have in the Illinois system also can come back and really help you out in the long run. Employers in the state of Illinois give the state accurate info about all of their past employees, which helps the state determine whether or not an unemployed worker gets the unemployment benefits, and if so, which employer is the one footing the bill.
Why is this beneficial to you? That’s because your unemployment insurance taxes are partly determined by how many of your former employees are receiving unemployment benefits. So if you have fewer former workers who get the benefits, you will have a lower tax rate.
As I’ve said once, and I’ll say it again, keeping accurate exit interview forms, absence notices, separation notices, and other records can go a long way to helping you control and even reduce your unemployment insurance payments.
The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act pays living expenses to eligible unemployed workers while they are looking for new employment. The employee’s weekly benefits amount is usually 49 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage. To qualify, a worker must have earned at least $1,600 during their most recent 12-month period.
I read that claims should be made at the Illinois Department of Employment Security office as soon as possible after separation from employment. Each employer must give their employees the pamphlet “What Every Worker Should Know About Unemployment Insurance” at the time of separation, or mail it within five days.
An employee may not receive benefits if they quit a job voluntarily without good cause attributable to an employer; were discharged for misconduct in connection with work; were discharged for a felony or theft in connection with work; or are out of work because of a labor dispute.
Among the types of work not covered are some agricultural, domestic and railroad work, some special government work, some work done for one’s family, and some work done on commission.
I understand that to be eligible for benefits, an unemployed individual must be available for work, able to work and actively seeking work. Benefits are not paid for any period in which employees are vacationing, attending school (unless it is a training course approved by the state) or engaging in any other activity which makes them unavailable for work.
A claimant may also be entitled to receive, in addition to the weekly benefit amount, an allowance for a non-working spouse or a dependent child or children.The allowance is a percentage of the average weekly wage of the claimant in his or her base period. The weekly benefit amount plus any allowance for a dependent make up the total amount
If during a calendar week an employee does not work full time because of lack of work, they may be eligible for partial benefits if the wages earned in such calendar week are less than their weekly benefit amount. For any such week, employers should provide employees with a statement of “low earnings” which should be taken to the Department of Employment Security office.
Also, I know that Illinois unemployment insurance benefits are paid from a Trust Fund to which only employers contribute. No deductions are made from the wages of workers for this purpose. Unemployment insurance benefits are taxable.
The law provides jail sentences and fines for anyone attempting to obtain benefits fraudulently by withholding pertinent information or by making false statements.
Unemployment insurance along with all other state labor laws can be found on the Illinois Complete Labor Law poster.