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Our sorry state

Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020

* Frank Manzo and Robert Bruno

As part of a state’s unemployment insurance system, work-share programs (also called “short-time compensation programs”) allow employers to temporarily reduce the hours of their workers during economic downturns as an alternative to laying them off altogether. For example, an employer might reduce the work hours of the entire workforce by 20 percent, from five days per week to four days per week, instead of laying off 20 percent of the workforce. Workers in the firms that participate in work-share programs receive partial unemployment insurance benefits to supplement the lost earnings from their reduced hours. By allowing full-time employees’ hours to be reduced in lieu of layoffs, work-share programs ensure businesses can retain skilled workers until economic conditions improve, enable workers to keep their jobs and collect reduced unemployment benefits, and reduce both unemployment rates and full unemployment insurance payments for states.

Sounds like a good idea. And 29 states and the District of Columbia have work-share programs, including Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

* Illinois actually has a work-share law on the books. From 2015

It took a year to do it, but the Illinois Legislature unanimously passed a bill designed to prevent layoffs by providing partial compensation for employees who lose work hours.

Gov. Pat Quinn on Dec. 23 signed the “shared work benefits” bill, which was passed in April by the House and agreed to in November by the Senate.

* But it’s never been implemented. Back to Manzo and Bruno

While its passage drew support from the labor movement and the business community, the program was never fully implemented because the Illinois Department of Employment Security did not issue rules during the Rauner Administration.


* Fox 32

Researchers estimate it could prevent up to 124,000 coronavirus layoffs in Illinois, not to mention saving the state’s unemployment insurance fund $1.1 billion.

“Under the $2-trillion dollar coronavirus relief package, the federal government is, with some stipulation, fully reimbursing states for their workshare program. So it is free money for the 29 states that currently have these 29 programs,” said Frank Manzo of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. […]

A spokeswoman for the governor said Pritzker “would definitely look into” the “Work Share” program.

They need to draft some emergency rules. Stat.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Not for Nothing - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 1:34 pm:

    Maybe I’m wrong but doesn’t this cut against fair workweek which says hours *can’t* be yo-yo’d?

  2. - Perrid - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 1:43 pm:

    Not for nothing, doesn’t that just say hourly workers have to know their schedule 2 weeks in advance? Not that their hours can’t be cut

  3. - Lt Guv - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 2:28 pm:

    Thanks again Rauner. The gift that keeps on giving. . .

  4. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 2:44 pm:

    At least Rauner didn’t leave us as bad off as the Kansas “model” he adored… ( really heavy-handed snark)

    “Almost every state has a rainy-day fund, but only Kansas, whose coffers are completely empty, has put aside less than Illinois.”

  5. - Homer Simpson's Brain - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 3:52 pm:

    Indeed we need emergency rules for work share. However, it is clearer than ever that unemployment insurance as currently constituted is inadequate even in the best of times. We need a major modernization of this system. I would love to see the following changes:

    Unemployment checks boosted to at least 80% of salary instead of the 47% rate currently in place (100% for low wage workers);

    Mandatory work share programs with 100% income replacement for hours lost for those on the lower end of pay (e.g. minimum wage workers);

    Universality so that every worker can receive benefits including freelancers, contractors, and new job market entrants (e.g. stay at home moms, school graduates);

    Unlimited duration of benefits;

    Income protection, up to 100% of salary for low wage workers, in the event that workers take a lower paying job than before until the employees’ wages reach their higher wages of their old jobs adjusted for wage inflation;

    Automatic Medicaid enrollment for unemployed workers, with employers picking up 100% of the states’ tab (i.e. COBRA premiums are too expensive for most workers);

    Make unemployment benefits subject to FICA taxes;

    At least 3 weeks per calendar year of vacation from the job search;

    And before anyone says we can’t afford it, I say of course we can. Make the employers pay as their profits as a share of national income is at historic highs.

  6. - Cmdr Shepard - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 4:16 pm:

    The work share program provides a greater unemployment benefit dollar amount to recipients, or is it just a streamlined way of someone applying for partial unemployment benefits vs having to follow the traditional route of unemployment filing?

  7. - Me, Me, Me - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 6:09 pm:

    This would be great for those of us who have had our hours cut and have been told to make up the remainder you can “use PTO.”

  8. - theCardinal - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 7:12 pm:

    Confusing laws ? programs not implemented? nothing to see here just another day in the once great stae of….kindly move along.

  9. - Lynn S. - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:04 am:

    Homer Simpson’s Brain:

    I’ll raise the ante.

    How about, instead of unemployment and social security and various retraining programs with lots of rules, we implement Universal Basic Income instead?

    Give every adult $1000/month, with another $500 for each dependant under age 18?

    If you take the amounts employers are paying in social security and unemployment taxes, and give a large portion of the amounts currently spent on benefits administration, everyone would be much better off.

    Automatic enrollment at birth. No need to apply for full or partial unemployment. No need to pay doctors for exams to quantify disability, or for lawyers to write regulations and argue cases in administrative appeals.

    As far as healthcare goes, either ACA or Medicare for All.

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* Pritzker calls up 250 more IL National Guard members, deploys 300 more ISP troopers for areas outside Chicago - Issues disaster proclamation for 9 counties - Says Trump has"fanned the flames instead of bringing peace and calm" - Chicago requested "limited role" for National Guard - Of Trump: "I really think it is time to call for calm" - All community-based COVID-19 testing sites closed - "We're being responsive as municipalities have asked us to step in" - "I don't want to dominate peaceful protesters who have legitimate grievances" - On Trump spat: "I think people should know what we stand for" - ISP has "several different missions" - Disaster declaration gives flexibility
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* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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* Yesterday's stories

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