CHICAGO - More businesses are able to access tax incentive information and individuals can better manage their job search and employment benefits following a concerted, year-long effort to revamp the on-line experience at the Illinois Department of Employment Security, officials said today.
"Our concerted effort to make our customers' web experience more intuitive and interactive is succeeding. More businesses are using the tools to improve their bottom line and search for their next new hire. More individuals are managing their employment benefits on-line while searching for their next opportunity," IDES Director Jay Rowell said. "These enhancements are designed to help improve the economy by making it easier for businesses to succeed and for workers to find meaningful employment while we continue to fight waste, fraud and abuse."
The numbers show how added features, easier account management and enhanced navigation tools have empowered individuals and business owners while improving the experience at www.ides.illinois.com
There are more than 120,000 help-wanted ads at Illinoisjoblink.com , the revamped IDES employment website that links job seekers with ready-to-hire employers. This no-cost, on-line career resource allows individuals to create multiple resumes that emphasize different talents and allows businesses to search for specific skills. The keyword matching technology increases the likelihood of a successful new hire. Illinois JobLink emphasizes Illinois jobs, scrapes other commercial job boards, and compares favorably to private efforts that cost hundreds of dollars for a single help-wanted advertisement.
Applications for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit showed Illinois businesses qualified for $67 million in income tax credits after hiring 27,000 individuals from historically disenfranchised groups, including military Veterans.
Easier account management tools have increased on-line unemployment applications as well as direct deposit payments. Both now exceed 60 percent of all those accessing unemployment insurance benefits.
Enhanced language translation services makes information more accessible to individuals and businesses, which will help them accomplish their goals more quickly and help the Department be more efficient. The website now is available in the four languages most frequently requested: Spanish, Polish, Simplified Chinese and Russian. Other translations can be met upon request. The translator button is in the upper-right corner of the redesigned IDES homepage. For each language, the IDES reviews more than 280 website pages with nearly 94,000 characters.
Language translation services, subscription options and the ability to download businesses seminars, job training classes and hiring events to an individual's personal calendar also have improved the website's usability. Social media links and instructional videos offer avenues to better leverage the Department's business and worker services.
The user-experience upgrades are part of a comprehensive effort that Governor Pat Quinn identified when he appointed Rowell one year ago: use benefit dollars to help families push through difficult economic times; protect taxpayers by guarding against waste, fraud and abuse; and transform the unemployment office into an employment agency by connecting workers with businesses ready to hire.
The unemployment insurance program is a joint federal-state effort, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor and the IDES. Businesses pay into the Trust Fund, and those contributions provide unemployment insurance benefits to qualified workers. The amount businesses pay is tied to their experience with the program; the more employees a business lays off, the more they contribute to the Fund. The Trust Fund provides payments to individuals out of work through no fault of their own. The temporary assistance also helps stabilize regional economies because the benefit payments are immediately spent at local gas stations, corner groceries, and neighborhood retailers. It is estimated that each $1 in unemployment insurance benefits generates approximately $1.61 in economic activity.
Illinois added +140,700 private sector jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned to the state following nearly two consecutive years of monthly declines. Since January 2010, leading growth sectors are Professional and Business Services (+74,600); Manufacturing (+42,900); and Educational and Health Services (+31,800). Government has lost the most jobs since January 2010, down -27,500.
The June unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, down from its peak of 11.4 percent in January 2010. Historically, the national unemployment rate is lower than the state rate. Only six times since January 2000 has the Illinois rate been lower than the national rate.
The IDES supports economic stability by administering unemployment benefits, collecting business contributions to fund those benefits, connecting employers with qualified job seekers, and providing economic information to assist career planning and economic development. It does so through more than 45 offices, including Illinois workNet centers.