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Afternoon roundup

Thursday, Nov 16, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller


The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate increased +0.2 percentage point to 4.6 percent, while nonfarm payrolls decreased -15,000 in October, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and released by IDES. The September revised unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, unchanged from the preliminary September unemployment rate. The September monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report, from +9,500 to +11,400 jobs. The October unemployment rate and payroll jobs estimate reflect activity for the week including the 12th.

In October, the industry sectors with the largest monthly payroll job declines included: Professional and Business Services (-6,700), Manufacturing (-5,300), Financial Activities (-2,900), and Educational and Health Services (-2,900). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-month job gains included: Government (+4,200), Leisure and Hospitality (+1,500), and Construction (+700). […]

The state’s unemployment rate was +0.7 percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for October. The national unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in October, up +0.1 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was unchanged from a year ago when it was also 4.6 percent.

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll jobs increased by +65,300 jobs, with gains across most major industries. The industry groups with the largest jobs increases included: Educational and Health Services (+34,900), Government (+28,200), and Leisure and Hospitality (+25,200). Professional and Business Services (-16,900), Manufacturing (-12,000), and Information (-6,200) reported the largest declines in payroll jobs. In October, total nonfarm payrolls were up +1.1 percent over-the-year in Illinois and up +1.9 percent in the nation.

The number of unemployed workers was 296,600, up +5.0 percent from the prior month, and down -1.1 percent over the same month one year ago. The labor force was up +0.1 percent over-the-month and down -0.1 percent over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

* Illinois PIRG…

Regulators took critical first steps to reform the failing Peoples Gas pipe replacement program Thursday. The action was one of many included in three major gas utility rate decisions voted on by the five-person Illinois Commerce Commission.

The Commission, recently overhauled by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, disallowed the entire proposed 2024 pipeline replacement budget, paused the program, and ordered a new investigation into the program, noting particular interest in reforming the program’s “neighborhood” approach. These decisions stem from recommendations made by Illinois PIRG and co-intervening organizations Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center, and NRDC. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General and City of Chicago made similar recommendations.

The pipe replacement program, which has been plagued by severe cost overruns and consistently failed to achieve its public safety objective, has raised customer bills for the past decade and is the primary driver of the record rate hike. On Wednesday, Peoples Gas published its third quarter report on the program, revealing the program to be once again over budget and behind on its pipe retirement goals.

Over the past decade, the state “QIP” law shielded the obviously troubled program from meaningful oversight or accountability, causing widespread affordability problems in Chicago and delivering six consecutive years of record-breaking profits to Peoples Gas and its out of state parent, WEC Energy Group.

The pipe replacement decision is just one of many made in three rate cases impacting gas utility customers across Illinois. In all cases, the Commission approved lower rate increases than requested by utilities.

The Commission also took important steps to lower profit rates, rein in unnecessary utility spending, lower fixed customer charges, plan for the future of the gas system, and create robust low income discount rates.

Final written orders are not available yet.

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced $25 million in available grant funding through the Back to Business (B2B) NewBiz program. Following state recovery programming for businesses totaling $1.5 billion, the latest American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)-funded opportunity is designed to provide additional support for businesses in hard-hit sectors who launched during the pandemic. Businesses that launched in 2020 or 2021 and remain in operation have faced significant impacts during the pandemic, but they have not been eligible for other federal or state relief programming since they were not operational prior to the pandemic.

To provide hands-on support and raise awareness about the program, the State has mobilized a network of nearly 100 community navigators across Illinois. Applicants are encouraged to visit to learn more and apply.

…Adding… ACLU of Illinois…

ACLU of Illinois Hails Judge’s Decisions on IDOC Treatment of Transgender Persons Under Their Care

In a pair of orders issued this morning, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Rosenstengel today denied a motion by the State of Illinois to vacate previous court orders mandating steps to be taken by the Illinois Department of Corrections to care for prisoners who are transgender and gender non-conforming, and ordered the Department to carefully consider the requests made by those prisoners at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center to be transferred out of that facility because it is unable to provide safe conditions for prisoners with gender dysphoria. The rulings are the latest development in a case – Monroe v. Bowman – seeking constitutionally-required health care and housing for those with gender dysphoria in IDOC custody. The following can be attributed to Camille Bennett, Director of the Corrections Reform Project at the ACLU of Illinois:

Today’s rulings by Judge Rosenstengel continue to allow our clients to navigate the very difficult conditions they face inside IDOC facilities. While there has been modest improvement in recent years, the court noted that the pace of change has been “glacial” and that a slow response is the wrong response to rectifying constitutional harms. The court ordered changes more than two years ago that still have not happened today, including things as simple as access to safe and private showers.

We are pleased that the court has ordered IDOC to consider moving our clients out of Pinckneyville, calling for individualized review of transfer requests before the end of the calendar year. At a recent hearing, a number of our clients at Pinckneyville bravely testified and twenty-two clients submitted written declarations about the abysmal conditions and daily humiliations and abuse they face at that facility.

We will continue to advocate for changes in the way IDOC cares for those with gender dysphoria. Today’s rulings will move that effort forward.

* Um

The emotional, 22-day speakership battle has Republicans still feeling raw. One member, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), said his stress over the ordeal manifested in physical symptoms — headaches and an upset stomach that occasionally led him to vomiting. The anger culminated in a now-infamous clash between Bost and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) during a closed-door conference meeting, when Bost yelled at the instigator of McCarthy’s ouster to “sit down.”

“It took a lot of prayer to get through it,” Bost said, noting his symptoms began to alleviate once they elected Johnson.

* Press release…

Today, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the appointment of Sydney Holman to serve as the Deputy Mayor of Intergovernmental Affairs. In this role, Holman will lead Mayor Johnson’s legislative priorities at the city, state and federal levels.

“Sydney brings a vast array of experience which will prove invaluable as we tackle some of the most vexing challenges our city faces,” said Mayor Johnson. “She will bring people together and find compromises that work for all parties involved, but most important, that work for the residents and communities of the City of Chicago.

“I also want to express my gratitude to Beth Beatty who served the City of Chicago admirably and championed some historic pieces of legislation over the past six months, including One Fair Wage, Bring Chicago Home and Paid Leave, as well as yesterday’s passage of our first City budget. Her contributions were invaluable, and I wish her all the best in the future.”

“It is my top priority to work with Chicago City Council and all levels of government to pass transformative legislation for the working people and families of the City of Chicago,” Holman said. “I am honored to serve this great city and I look forward to working with Mayor Johnson to continue investing in people and moving an historic legislative agenda.”

Holman most recently worked at Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies where she assisted clients with legislative strategy and policy advocacy across a diverse range of topics. Holman previously served as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and as House Liaison of Legislative Affairs with the Office of Governor JB Pritzker. During her time at the Governor’s Office, Holman successfully lobbied the Governor’s progressive agenda on a wide range of issues including pension and business reform, gaming initiatives, higher education issues and healthcare accessibility.

Now, for the love of Mike, please hire a competent comms staff…

* Rep. Buckner has some serious chops

* From Isabel…

    * WBEZ | As Chicago struggles to shelter migrants from Venezuela, neighboring Oak Park steps in to help: Earlier this month, Oak Park officials voted to declare a month-long emergency disaster. They appropriated $150,000 of the village’s COVID recovery funds to help migrants, adding to the $400,000 they were granted by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus for the cause. After a few days at Good Shepherd and United Lutheran, most of the migrants were moved to the Carleton of Oak Park Hotel and the West Cook YMCA.

    * Tribune | Passengers injured in train crash on CTA Yellow Line in Rogers Park: At least 19 CTA train passengers were injured, three in critical-to-serious condition, Thursday morning when a Yellow Line train crashed in the Rogers Park neighborhood, said Larry Langford, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department. According to preliminary information provided by the CTA, at approximately 10:40 a.m., a Yellow Line train made contact with rail equipment in the Howard Rail Yard. Langford said it was a snow removal apparatus.

    * Sun-Times | Dozens injured in CTA train crash near the Howard Street station: The injured were taken to hospitals in fair-to-serious condition, and 15 refused care, said Keith Gray, assistant deputy chief paramedic, during a media briefing at the scene. No one suffered life-threatening injuries. The CTA operator, who was near the point of collision, was among the most critically injured. The children, the youngest of whom was 2, suffered “bumps and bruises.”

    * Crain’s | Cresco Labs leans into efficiency, innovation after lower-than-expected loss: The approach – which the company leaned heavily into after its merger with Columbia Care (now The Cannabist) collapsed – resulted in a moderate decline in sales as the company closed out operations in states where it had a weaker position, such as Arizona. But the metric fell less than the high single-digit drop initially projected.

    * WBEZ | More Palestinians live in Cook County than any other county in the nation: Like many other Palestinians in the Chicago area at the time, Naser’s parents initially settled on the Southwest Side of Chicago where they found a vibrant and diverse Palestinian community, especially in places like the Arab Community Center. The center is now home to the Arab American Action Network, a grassroots organizing and social services nonprofit. Naser currently serves on the board.

    * CBS Chicago | Parents furious after girls are subjected to racist taunts at Illinois high school: “For us, this is a nightmarish déjà vu,” said Morgan’s mom, TeSaxton Washington. It is déjà vu because in 2021, Washington settled a lawsuit with the school district after another student threatened to “lynch” her son during class in 2019.

    * Media-Ite | ‘Unvarnished Anti-Semitism’: Elon Musk Catches All Hell for Agreeing With Bigoted Tweet: The initial post written by @breakingbaht claimed Jewish communities “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites” with the user adding, “I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much. You want truth said to your face, there it is.” Musk replied to the tweet, stating, “You have said the actual truth.”

    * AP | Take heart, it looks like China could send new pandas to the US: The bears have long been the symbol of the U.S.-China friendship since Beijing gifted a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington in 1972, ahead of the normalization of bilateral relations. Later, Beijing loaned the pandas to other U.S. zoos, with proceeds going back to panda conservation programs.

    * CBS Chicago | Stateville prison inmates receive diplomas from Northwestern University: William Peeples is serving a life sentence at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, but for the past five years, he’s been working toward a college degree. “Best five years I ever spent. This moment is the culmination of literally 30 years of people pouring into me,” Peeples said. Peeples is part of a cohort of students in the Northwestern University Prison Education Program.

    * Shaw Local | Princeton’s Red Covered Bridge heavily damaged by semi-trailer: Princeton’s iconic Red Covered Bridge, located 1.5 miles north of the city off Route 26, sustained heavy damage Thursday morning as a semi-trailer attempted to pass through it. The semi attempted to pass north to south and caused damage to both the historic structure and the semi itself. Portions of the trailer were ripped off after becoming stuck in the top of the covered bridge.

    * AP | Thousands of Starbucks workers walkout, go on 1-day strike on Red Cup Day: The union said it was expecting more than 5,000 workers to take part in its “Red Cup Rebellion.” Around 30 stores also staged walkouts on Wednesday. […] Starbucks downplayed any potential impact of the strike Wednesday, saying it would occur at a “small subset” of the company’s 9,600 company-owned U.S. stores.

    * WaPo | A rare look at the devastation caused by AR-15 shootings: The review lays bare how the AR-15, a weapon that has soared in popularity over the past two decades as a beloved tool for hunting, target practice and self-defense, has also given assailants the power to instantly turn everyday American gathering places into zones of gruesome violence. This is an oral history told in three parts that follows the chronological order of a typical AR-15 mass shooting. It weaves together pictures, videos and the recollections of people who endured different tragedies but have similar stories to tell.


  1. - James in Little Italy - Thursday, Nov 16, 23 @ 2:49 pm:

    Why we can’t have nice things Part 874…

    Princeton’s Red Covered Bridge heavily damaged by semi-trailer

  2. - H-W - Thursday, Nov 16, 23 @ 3:04 pm:

    The Washington Post story at the end is very difficult to read and watch. It reminded me instantly why military grade and military capable firearms should be regulated.

  3. - Mary Poppins - Thursday, Nov 16, 23 @ 3:23 pm:

    Sydney Holman is the GOAT!

  4. - Give It Up! - Thursday, Nov 16, 23 @ 4:17 pm:

    Sydney is an incredible hire. The city needs more people like that. Amen on the communications nudge!

  5. - New Day - Thursday, Nov 16, 23 @ 5:19 pm:

    Kam has a second career if the first one doesn’t work out.

  6. - Amalia - Thursday, Nov 16, 23 @ 7:33 pm:

    reading the Goldner firm story. wow. why are they short of money?

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