For tens of thousands of Illinoisans, this Tuesday is a grim one. Around 127,000 jobless people across the state will lose emergency unemployment insurance after today and thousands more could be hurled back into a weak employment market, as funding for Put Illinois To Work (PITW) -- a jobs program paid for largely by federal stimulus dollars -- runs dry at the close of business this afternoon. One Chicago employer that participated in PITW will keep on less than half of the 80 workers it was able to hire thanks to the program, with another 15 kept as temps:
CPC, a contract manufacturer and packager on Chicago's South Side, will hire 32 of its 80 participants as full- or part-time employees and retain another 15 as temporary workers based on demand, said Vice Chairman Yasar Samarah. The program enabled CPC to add to its previous workforce of 110.
An extension of unemployment benefits and funding for PITW are both held up in the U.S. Senate, which has started its lame duck session. Over the next couple of weeks, the politics of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans may very well decide if the long-term unemployed and low-income workers in Illinois and elsewhere get help once again. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday he wants to put unemployment and several tax credits "on the table" in the upcoming negotiations the tax cut extension. Watch this clip from NBC's Meet The Press (the full interview is available here):
A Durbin spokesperson told Progress Illinois this morning that funding for programs like PITW is "not dead" either, but rather part of the package that Durbin will be pushing in December.
UPDATE (5:36 p.m.): Put Illinois To Work got an extension today until January 15 of next year -- by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, not Congress (H/T to Illinois Observer). A Quinn spokesperson said the extension will cost $47 million and be paid for by bonding a portion of the state's share of the 1998 tobacco settlement. Quinn committed $75 million in state dollars on September 30 to extend PITW through the end of November earlier this fall.