Jacksonville Job Center among 7 to close in state [Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Ill.]
(Jacksonville Journal-Courier (IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 02--The Job Center in Jacksonville was among seven closed across the state Friday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
A sign on the door at the unemployment office at 850 S. Main St. said services will be available online at www.ides.Illinois.gov, through the claimant call center at 1-800-244-5631 and at the Springfield unemployment office.
The closures, first announced in January, are not connected to potential service reductions through sequestration, according to the department.
"The decision was made because of a general decline of (unemployment insurance) claims and the seven offices identified had lower workloads than others," said Greg Rivara, a spokesman for the department, which is nearly 100 percent federally funded.
In addition to Jacksonville, walk-in and telephone services were discontinued at 5 p.m. Thursday at unemployment offices in Centralia, DeKalb, East St. Louis, Galesburg, Mattoon and Murphysboro.
Although the department will not provide services in these offices, staff will continue to work in the locations temporarily until the layoff is complete. A firm date is difficult to predict because collective bargaining requirements must be considered, Rivara said.
Clients of an employment and training services program through the federal Workforce Investment Act will continue to receive services at the Jacksonville facility, Rivara said.
The closings will leave 192 people without jobs, though they are expected to have the opportunity to fill open positions elsewhere in state government.
The number of unemployment offices shuttered for budgetary reasons in the past 18 months total 15 -- four in Chicago and one each in Freeport, Litchfield, Mount Vernon and Pekin.
Additionally, 10 outpost locations were closed and more than 200 intermittent positions have not been filled since Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal budget year.
"The question we have been asked the most this week is: Where are these (clients) expected to go " Rivara said.
The department is not expecting a significant impact because more than half of the people who apply for benefits use the Internet to do so and 100 percent receive their benefits electronically, Rivara said.
"While I can appreciate some people feel more comfortable meeting face to face, one can't function in today's work environment without basic Internet skills," Rivara said.
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