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What's Being Done about the Danville Unemployment Office Consolidation

Updated: Friday, February 7 2014, 09:50 AM CST
According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Danville's unemployment rate was almost 12 percent.

In Champaign, where the unemployment services have been consolidated, had just 8 percent unemployed.

You asked why the office was moved and we took your questions to local leaders and lawmakers to find out what's being done to improve the situation for those looking for work.

It's been two months since unemployment services in Danville were moved to champaign and some people seeking unemployment like Jim Russell, a seasonal construction worker, say now they not only have a forty-five minute drive but also a long wait once they get to Champaign.

Russell says, "They really haven't made things any easier. They've actually made it worse. Once again, the government's made it worse."

When word broke that the Danville unemployment office would consolidate local leaders made it clear they did not support the decision.

Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer says, "We just felt as though the consolidated office should be located in Danville where it's being utilized more than where it was actually placed."

State Representative Chad Hays agrees saying, "To shut that unemployment office and move it forty miles away into a community that experiences significantly lower unemployment is a decision that really is unfathomable and defies logic."

A lack of federal funding forced the state to consolidate offices.

State Representative Chad Hays and Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer reached out to the Illinois Department of Employment Security Director urging him not to move services from Danville.

Mayor Eisenhauer says, "I think we made a very good case. Unfortunately, I think they had their minds made up from the beginning what they were doing and where they were going with it."

IDES Representative Greg Rivara says Danville's unemployment office was chosen because the lease was up and renewing it would have cost jobs, but that's not all.

While it's true the Danville unemployment rate is about four-percent higher than Champaign, the number of people filling initial unemployment claims in Champaign is much higher.

But for those seeking answers in Danville, there are still answers there.

People can use a computer to check on unemployment benefits.

But if you want to talk a person about those benefits, you have to call or go to Champaign.

Russell says, "It's a lot more inconvenient. I've got to drive forty-five miles one way just to come here to just ask a question. I tried to call them on the phone but they never answer phones. You can't find anything out online so I had to drive form Danville to here just to ask a question."

IDES officals say their call centers have seen increased volume since the U.S. Congress failed to continue emergency unemployment benefits and hold times have doubled to about 30 minutes since then, but there are options remaining in Danville for those seeking unemployment assistance.

State Senator Michael Frerichs says, "I think there are people that are scared, people that have some concerns but we're letting them know the various ways they can still access these benefits."

But that's little consolation to Jim Russell who says, "All they're doing is basically wasting peoples' times because I know for a fact now there's people in there right now that's going to have to come back tomorrow."

State Senator Michael Frerichs says the trend in consolidating unemployment offices will continue until eventually everything is online.

If you have questions about anything dealing with unemployment your first option is to call a 1-800 number for information or you can click on our site's web watch page.
What's Being Done about the Danville Unemployment Office Consolidation


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