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Article updated: 1/15/2013 8:48 AM

IDES announces office closings

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By Associated Press

The Illinois Department of Employment Security is closing seven offices and reducing staff by nearly 200 people.

In a news release, the agency says the closings are happening in part because a somewhat improved economy has led to falling unemployment insurance claims.

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Employment Security Director Jay Rowell says that's the irony about the department. The nearly 100 percent federal-funded agency hires more people when the economy worsens and lets people go when there's an uptick in growth.

The seven offices shutting down are in Centralia, DeKalb, East St. Louis, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Mattoon and Murphysboro.

The department says the people who'll be most affected are those who prefer in-person service and aren't comfortable accessing benefits via the Internet.

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