WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Friday, January 10 they will consolidate the Marion office into Mt. Vernon, saving taxpayers $170,000 annually.
The agency is Federally funded, not state funded. IDES said Federal budget cuts prompted the consolidation. The Marion office was chosen because the lease was up.
According to Greg Rivara with IDES, the first group of people that will feel the long-term unemployment cuts felt it this week. The next round will happen next week. So, officials say they are busy with calls right now.
Rivara said all of the business these people need to take care of can be done over the phone or on the internet.
The local impact on those seeking unemployment insurance is expected to be minimal because nearly 90 percent of all applications are submitted either electronically or on the telephone. IDES largely discontinued accepting paper claims at offices last summer. Most states do not accept, or severely restrict, paper claims.
As with other states, IDES provides employment services in a face-to-face setting and unemployment insurance services through telephone call centers and the internet. Best practices call for employment services to be delivered in-person to accommodate the unique nature of an individual's job search and a local area's specific needs. Unemployment insurance services delivered through the internet and telephone allow processing centers to review applications more quickly and efficiently. This is possible because applications are the same across the state and are not impacted by unique employment history, work skills or location.
"The most cost-efficient use of taxpayer money is to provide employment services in a face-to-face setting and unemployment services on the telephone and internet," IDES Director Jay Rowell said. "This decision reflects an investment in people, not buildings. Local leaders and workforce partners here and across the country have embraced this model because it improves overall customer service while spending fewer taxpayer dollars."
Expiring leases typically trigger IDES' review of fixed costs and the Marion lease is expiring. This consolidation brings to approximately 35 the number of offices that IDES has consolidated in the past three years in the wake of continued federal budget cuts. Most have occurred in Chicago and its suburbs.
IDES is federally funded. Budget allocations are made in Washington D.C., not Springfield. IDES' federal budget is shrinking because fewer people are collecting unemployment insurance. In December 2013, there were about 211,000 individuals collecting unemployment; in December 2009 it was about 467,000. Today, IDES has approximately 600 fewer employees than it did in 2009.
The unemployment rate measures those who are out of work and looking for work, not the number of individuals collecting unemployment benefits.
A specific consolidation date will be identified after further talks with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, which represents IDES workers. No jobs will be lost nor layoffs required.
Unemployment insurance applications are not required to be completed at an office. In fact, internet applications have been available since 2006 and can be accessed at ides.illinois.gov. All benefit payments are electronic.
There is an 800 number for people to call, you should not call the individual offices. Questions can be directed to (800) 244-5631. If you leave a message, someone will call you back.