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Kane state employment offices likely to change

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Updated: March 3, 2014 5:57PM

The Illinois Department of Employment Security, which handles both employment and unemployment services, is likely to change its service offices in Kane County.

Greg Rivara, IDES spokesman in its Chicago office, said Friday the agency is looking at possibly leaving either or both of its offices in downtown Elgin, and on Smoketree Plaza in North Aurora, “maybe this year.”

“There are no dates, no guesses what might occur, or when it may occur,” he said. “But we’re not going to leave Kane County.”

IDES is in the early stages of looking at its “footprint” in Kane, Rivara said. It was brought on by the fact that the tenant that shares space with IDES in Elgin is leaving, at the same time the lease for the Smoketree Plaza location in North Aurora is expiring.

Those are the two places in the county where IDES serves customers. It has a third location in Aurora that is strictly administration and does not serve the public.

At the two public offices, IDES provides both employment services and unemployment services.

Employment services are where clients register to look for work. The case workers match a worker’s skills with jobs that might be available, or employers looking for specific kinds of skills.

Unemployment services are for people who file for unemployment benefits.

While the two are related, they are separate things, Rivara said. He pointed out that not everyone who is unemployed is eligible for benefits.

But for those who are, some 90 percent of those claims are now handled online, or on the telephone. Eligibility for benefits has nothing to do with where the client lives, or what skills the client has.

“Delivery that way meets best practices, it’s the way the majority of other states work and it’s cost-effective,” Rivara said.

IDES is federally funded, administered by the state. Funding has been going down for three years for IDES largely because there are more jobs and claimants for unemployment are down.

Rivara said IDES continues to look for ways to cut costs. While claimants have been able to apply for unemployment benefits online since 2006, the state office has pushed it more in recent years.

Rivara said in 2006, if a person came to the office, he or she was given a paper application to fill out. Last summer, the office instead referred those people to a computer in the office, where the claimant would apply online.

That eventually knocked down paper applications from about 50 percent to only 10 percent. And that’s high, compared to other states, Rivara said.

Because of that, with IDES looking at its Kane offices, it could mean the Elgin and North Aurora offices could end up combined somewhere else in the county.

“There’s no doubt that financial aspect will be looked at,” Rivara said.

He added that no jobs will be lost in changing the offices.

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