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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:13am
Wed Jul 6, 2016

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
6:35pm
Fri Jul 1, 2016

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
12:11pm
Mon Jun 27, 2016

Illinois Expands Reach Of Summer Meal Programs, But 686,000 Kids Still Missing Out

More low-income Illinois children are participating in summer meal programs, but there are still nearly 686,000 eligible kids missing out, a new report shows.

About 112,000 low-income Illinois children received summer meals on a daily basis last July, according to the report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger group.

That figure represents a 4.7 percent increase from July 2014, when about 107,000 low-income Illinois children accessed summer meal programs each day.

While advocates are pleased by the 4.7 percent increase, they point out that summer meals are reaching only one in seven low-income Illinois children who need them.

PI Original
by Ray Quintanilla
3:39pm
Fri Jun 24, 2016

Can ‘Miss Obamacare’ Save Health Care? Enrolling Latinos Is Critical

Progress Illinois talks to one of the local players involved in getting a key demographic enrolled in Obamacare.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
7:15pm
Thu Jun 23, 2016

Illinois Immigration Reform Advocates Vow To Press On After Supreme Court's Split Vote On Executive Orders (VIDEO)

The U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4-4 split on the case challenging President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration reform and Illinois advocates are expressing their dismay as they plan to press their efforts forward.

The deadlock vote means the president's November 2014 orders to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and install the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) have been blocked for the time being.

The programs would have deferred deportation for three years for undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders, while also expanding protections for people who were brought to the U.S. as minors and were not covered by the original DACA program. More than 4 million immigrants would have benefited from the orders, 280,000 people living in Illinois.

"This ruling is deeply frustrating and disappointing for all immigrant communities," said Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights CEO Lawrence Benito.  "Instead of being able to move forward with our lives and contributing further to our entire community, immigrants remain vulnerable to the knock on the door that could separate them from their families and from the lives they have made in this country."

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