Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jul 6

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
Fri Jul 1

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.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Jun 23

Chicago Community Groups To Rauner: Fund Summer Youth Job Programs

With Chicago facing a spike in gun violence, community activists and clergy gathered Thursday morning outside the Cook County Jail to demand state funding for summer youth employment programs.

Youth advocates from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and other groups urged the governor to immediately address the lack of state funding going toward summer jobs during the budget impasse.

Summer jobs, the advocates say, are a key to combating violence. So far this year, the city of Chicago has recorded roughly 1,800 shootings and more than 300 homicides.

"Governor Rauner, this is not about politics. This is about life or death," said Parrish Brown, 20, a KOCO youth leader. "About 1,800 people have already been shot -- and it's June. Something has to be done with the violence in our communities. ... There is evidence that shows that violence decreases amongst youth when they have summer jobs and resources in their communities."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jun 8

National Anti-Poverty Group 'Alarmed' By Caseload Decline In Illinois' Welfare Program

Officials with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law are expressing concern over the declining caseload in Illinois' welfare program. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the issue.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri May 20

Illinois Has The Nation's Highest African-American Jobless Rate For Second Straight Quarter

New reports show a grim employment situation for African Americans living in Illinois.


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