A stagnant Illinois economy, the implementation of Illinois’ right-to-carry law and the state launches a new campaign to fight child abuse are issues making news during the week.
The black and white figures of a number of economic reports show Illinois’ economy continues to languish. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report, Illinois’ unemployment rate in August was 9.2 percent. That’s where it has been all summer long and it represents about 600,000 Illinoisans out of work. It’s the second highest jobless rate of any state and is nearly two full percentage points above the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Other federal statistics continue to show that while the national unemployment rate dropped from 8.9 percent to 7.3 percent over the past year, Illinois’ unemployment rate increased over the same time period from 8.9 percent to the current 9.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), a non-partisan public policy research organization, reports the average unemployment rate of the five surrounding states is 7.2 percent. That’s also a full two percentage points lower than Illinois’ 9.2 percent rate.
There is some positive news to mention but it is colored by a harder reality. The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports approximately 5,900 jobs were created in August and upwards of 22,000 jobs during the June through August period but again unemployment remained at 9.2 percent. You might wonder how this can be. Perhaps the true picture of joblessness is not complete without looking at the broader unemployment picture. IPI also reported on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s assessment of the U-6 figure. The U-6 number includes those currently unemployed and workers who are underemployed and those people who have given up looking for work. In its report IPI wrote, “Illinois’ most recent U-6 unemployment rate is 16.1%, meaning more than 1 million Illinoisans are unemployed or underemployed.” US Census Bureau figures also show Illinois ranks 45th among the 50 states for job creation and a media report by the Associated Press during the week revealed nearly 15 percent or 1.8 million Illinoisans live in poverty.
Progress continues toward the January 2014 implantation of the Concealed Carry or Right-to-Carry law passed by the Legislature this year and signed by the Governor. Illinois State Police have begun the approval process for instructors and the classroom course work needed to complete the required education for a Concealed Carry permit.
State Police began the task of approving qualified instructors earlier this month and a searchable list of those already approved can be found at the Illinois State Police Web site.
As of September 26, there were 467 accepted instructors but the list is likely to grow because ISP officials say more than 1,000 instructor applications have been submitted. Approving instructors and the training coursework are among the first steps needed in order to meet the expected demand for a concealed carry license once the application process begins on January 5. ISP officials are also expected to begin publishing a listing of all approved curriculum on September 30. The department said it will continue to update the listing for approved instructors in the coming days and weeks. If you want more information on the concealed-carry permitting process, visit the ISP Web site.
Also making news during the week, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has launched a new statewide campaign aimed at stopping child abuse and neglect.
Authorities say one in five children are abused or neglected before they turn 18, and 70 percent of child abuse goes unreported. That’s just heartbreaking and is the motivation for the new campaign “You are Not Alone.” DCFS plans to distribute 25,000 child abuse prevent posters to public and private schools around the state.
I hope this new awareness will encourage abuse victims to come forward and get the help they need. It’s reported that a child tells an average of seven adults about mistreatment before the mistreatment is reported to authorities. I hope and we must do better for our children. The posters will promote the state’s Child Abuse Hotline, and inform children and adults to call if they, a friend, or relative needs help. The number to the state’s Child Abuse Hotline is (800) 252-2873. It is available 24 hours a day and calls can remain confidential.