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posted: 5/1/2012 6:30 PM

State unemployment service in Waukegan discontinued

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Unemployment services offered by the state at a satellite office in Waukegan have been discontinued and shifted to the main office in Grayslake.

As of Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Employment Security no longer had personnel available at the Waukegan Job Center, 1 N. Genesee St., for matters related to unemployment insurance.

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"If you're defining assistance as accepting a paper claim, that's accurate," said IDES Spokesman Greg Rivara.

A staffer had been on duty Tuesdays and Wednesdays to accept claims. However, questions about a specific claim could not be answered there because the information could not be accessed via computer, Rivara said. The paper claims would be taken to Grayslake where they would be inputted electronically, he added.

Veterans services still will be available at the Waukegan office on Mondays. IDES services for ex-offenders, which had been scheduled by appointment on Thursdays and Fridays in Waukegan, also will be transferred to Grayslake.

Unemployment operations have been consolidated at the Grayslake Job Center, 800 Lancer Lane. Anyone with questions should call (800) 244-5631.

"The notion that individuals aren't going to be served because we recalled two part-time associates is misleading," Rivara said.

The move was made to comply with a federal mandate regarding in-person interviews, Rivara said. Because IDES will have to speak with about 10,000 more people each week to meet the requirements, staffers in 10 satellite offices throughout the state are "temporarily" being sent to the main offices.

Rivara said unemployment claims can be filed at any office but individuals are being encouraged to do so at the department's website, where several other services are available.

"You can do everything on the website," he said.

Gary Gibson, interim director of the Lake County Workforce Development Department, which fields a staff of about 25 to provide career training services in the same office space, said his staff has been spreading the word about the change.

Gibson about 100 people a day visited the Waukegan IDES office at its peak, although the number has dropped to about 25 as the economy has improved. Finding transportation to the Grayslake office could be an issue for some, he said.

According to data released last week by IDES, the unemployment rate in Lake/Kenosha counties was 9.3 percent in March, compared to 10.3 percent in March 2011. The state rate was 9 percent.

Services provided by Lake County Workforce Development for jobseekers continue uninterrupted.

"It ranges from truck driving all the way up to lawyers and engineers coming in for certificates and training," Gibson said.

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