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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Thu Jul 7, 2016

Chicago Activists, Lawmakers Deliver Petitions To SEC For Action On 'Toxic' Interest Rate Swaps (VIDEO)

Chicago community activists and local elected officials delivered 88,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) regional office Thursday morning, urging the agency to investigate complex financial agreements called interest rate swaps.

Those who delivered the petition signatures, collected online by the Grassroots Collaborative and several other organizations, say cash-strapped local and state governments are being squeezed by the "toxic swaps" they entered into with banks before the Great Recession. The complicated deals, which come with hefty penalties and termination fees, were intended to save taxpayer-backed organizations money, but they backfired when the economy crashed.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:13am
Wed Jul 6, 2016

Job Barriers Facing Ex-Prisoners Could Cost U.S. Economy At Least $78 Billion

U.S. economic growth suffers when former prisoners and convicted felons are locked out of the labor market, a new study shows.

Employment barriers faced by former offenders resulted in the estimated loss of 1.7 million to 1.9 million workers in 2014, reducing the overall U.S. employment rate by almost 1 percentage point, according to the report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

That translates into a $78 billion to $87 billion loss in annual gross domestic product (GDP) for the United States.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:35pm
Fri Jul 1, 2016

Gig Economy Workers Should Have Unemployment Protections, Experts Say

Workers in the gig economy and other independent contractors should be eligible for temporary unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs, according to a new report.

The Center for American Progress, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the National Employment Law Project have a package of proposals aimed at adapting the unemployment insurance (UI) system "for 21st century realities."

The proposed reforms include creating a "Jobseekers Allowance" for workers ineligible for traditional UI, including independent contractors and others in the "gig" or sharing economy, such as Uber and Lyft drivers. A Jobseekers Allowance would also cover individuals with limited work history, including young people transitioning from school to work and people re-entering the labor force after caring for a family member or recovering from an illness.

UI is a federal-state program that temporarily replaces wages for individuals who lost their job through no fault of their own and are actively looking for employment, among other eligibility requirements. Workers in most states can receive UI benefits, which are paid by businesses through payroll taxes, for a maximum of 26 weeks.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:31pm
Wed Jun 22, 2016

Chicago City Council Passes Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, Regulations On Sharing Services

From paid sick days to regulations on popular sharing services like Airbnb and Uber, Progress Illinois rounds up highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:25pm
Tue Jun 21, 2016

Kids Count Report: Child Well-Being A Mixed Bag In Illinois

A new report shows some good and bad news on how children are faring in Illinois.

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