DANVILLE — Unemployed local residents and seven employees will be affected by a plan to close the local unemployment insurance benefits office in the city at the Illinois Department of Employment Security office on Franklin Street.
State Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, has petitioned Gov. Pat Quinn and IDES director Jay Rowell to rethink this recently revealed plan to close the Danville office for unemployment assistance.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said he received a phone call from Rowell on Friday telling him about the proposed consolidation plan of offices in the state.
“This is the 33rd office consolidation due to the lack of state and federal funding,” Eisenhauer said he was told. Eisenhauer said Rowell didn’t indicate how soon the unemployment services office would close.
What would remain in the Danville IDES site would be employment services offices for help with resumes and other services and disabled veterans offices, according to Eisenhauer.
Hays and Eisenhauer said persistent high unemployment proves there is a pressing need for more, not less, unemployment assistance here.
“In one year, Vermillion County’s unemployment rate grew from 10.6 percent in August 2012 to 11.3 percent in August of this year. The Danville Metropolitan unemployment rate is also up nearly a full percent over the past year and remains considerably higher than the statewide rate. This is the very last place that they should be proposing to close up shop and refer job seekers to a toll-free phone number or a website,” Hays said in a press release.
Hays has been urging Quinn and Rowell to reconsider their decision to close unemployment services offices in areas of the state with the most need, such as Danville.
Hays said the IDES needs to utilize all resources available to redouble efforts to match job seekers with jobs available.
“In his response to me, director Rowell indicated that he wants the department to focus on employment. I am glad to hear that because it appears that part of the system doesn’t work well now. While we have high unemployment in Vermilion County, we also have many good, available jobs that continue to go unfilled,” Hays said in the press release.
“I don’t see how that situation will improve if IDES insists on closing physical offices in favor of ‘call in centers,’” he said.
“If they have a plan, I certainly want to see it. If they don’t, let’s work together to get an employment-focused plan in place. Unemployed workers need a job, not a toll free number,” Hays concluded.
Eisenhauer said local residents wanting to talk to someone in person would have to travel to Champaign, the closest IDES office, once the Danville unemployment insurance benefits office would close.
He said not everyone has access to the Internet to file through the IDES online computer program, and some people have limited finances and transportation options.
Eisenhauer said he asked Rowell how many people visit and receive assistance through the Danville office, but Rowell didn’t have that information.