Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Mar 17

Report: Record-Low Number Of Jobless Americans Protected By Unemployment Insurance

The percentage of out-of-work Americans receiving benefits from state unemployment insurance (UI) programs reached a historic low in 2014, a new study shows.

According to the Economic Policy Institute's (EPI) report, the national UI recipiency rate -- the share of jobless people receiving benefits from state UI programs --  dropped to 23 percent as of last December. That's less than the previous record-low UI recipiency rate of 25 percent, which was set in September 1984.

Though researchers from the Washington, D.C.-based think tank do credit the decline in part to an improving economy, they say state UI programs "in many cases failed to assist jobless workers" after the Great Recession.

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
Wed Mar 11

Garcia Endorsements 'Represents Coalition Building' Between Black & Brown Communities (VIDEO)

Mayoral hopeful Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia added to his list of endorsements from the African-American community Tuesday when he picked up support from key West Side religious and community leaders who say their support for Garcia dispels myths of a rift between black and brown communities.

"This is not a time for racial divisiveness, pitting community against community," said Rev. Ira Acree, who was among nearly 50 religious and community leaders announcing their support for Garcia during a press conference at Columbus Park Refectory, 5701 W. Jackson Blvd.

"We are delighted to stand with Mr. Garcia because he represents coalition building. That's been his history. He has supported Mayor Harold Washington in a time when this town was literally divided by race," added the pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church.

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
Tue Mar 10

Op-Ed: Rauner's Budget Plan Gives Young Illinoisans 'Cause For Concern'

The following was written by Brenna Conway, the Illinois Director for the Roosevelt Institute -- Campus Network.

On the campaign trail, Governor Bruce Rauner shared very little about how he would tackle Illinois' extreme budget crisis. His messaging told us there was a plan, that the focus would be improving the business climate of our state and resolving our overwhelming pension problem, but not how we'd achieve these goals. As we finish up his first month on the job we now have a glimpse into both that plan and his style as a chief executive. The question is, are these things that young people in Illinois can support?

It's clear that the governor has a laser-like focus on our state's fiscal problems, and with a "credible debt projection of over $9 billion for fiscal year 2016," such a focus is vitally important to getting us back on track. But his tactics thus far do not reflect they way that young people in Illinois are hoping to solve our state's problems.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Feb 27

Report: 1 Million Poor U.S. Adults Could See SNAP Benefits Cut Next Year

Approximately 1 million poor U.S. adults could lose their food-aid benefits next year via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, according to a recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The loss of benefits stems from a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for jobless, able-bodied adults without dependents. The provision dictates that no person can have SNAP benefits for more than three months over a three-year period. That rule has been waived in most states in recent years due to high unemployment rates. But the provision is expected to be reinstated in many areas during the 2016 federal fiscal year as the economy continues to improve.

The return of the three-month restriction means non-disabled, childless adults aged 18 to 50 who are not employed or participating in job-related programs for 20 hours or more a week will see their SNAP benefits end "after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work," the report says.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Feb 16

Report: Progressive Activism Must Target The Fed, Monetary Policy

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, argues that the Federal Reserve should be receiving more scrutiny from progressive activists.

EPI research associate Thomas Palley wrote the report, which also serves as a primer on the how the Federal Reserve, or the Fed, works and offers a blueprint on how to make monetary policy more "job- and wage-friendly."

Over the three decades prior to the Great Recession, Palley says the Fed, the central bank of the United States, "consistently took care of Wall Street first while not caring much about Main Street."

"Since the Great Recession, there has been some shift toward helping ordinary Americans, but even more is needed, and we fervently hope that [Fed] Chair [Janet] Yellen sees this," said Palley, who also serves as AFL-CIO's senior economic policy adviser.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Feb 12

Mayoral Candidates Court Chicago's Youth Vote At Forum

Three of Chicago's five mayoral contenders participated in a youth-led candidate forum Wednesday evening focused on issues that affect the lives of young people of color in the city. Progress Illinois was there for the event.

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
Tue Feb 3

Chicago Teens Face Barren Job Market, New Report Finds

The difference between life on the streets and having a future is a summer job, several teens testified at a recent Chicago Urban League hearing on the city's high youth unemployment rate.

"Summer jobs took me out the streets," said Juan Cortes, who grow up in Chicago's West Lawn neighborhood and lost friends to gun violence. "When I would be working, they would be on the streets."

Cortes, 18, is lucky. He was able to find employment through the Latino Organization of the Southwest. The nonprofit helped the now expectant father go to school for his commercial driver's license.

But many of his peers, especially black and Latino youths, aren't so lucky. They remain jobless even as the nation's unemployment rate, at 5.6 percent, is at its lowest level since the start of the 2008 recession, according to a new study.


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