Reporter Sean F. Driscoll takes exams familiar to the unemployed

For many newly unemployed workers, it’s been decades since they sat at a desk, freshly sharpened No. 2 pencil in hand, and stared down the barrel of a standardized test.

But if they want to further their education or get training, odds are they’ll have to make it through that barrier before they can get down to learning and finding work. Read more.


Illinois can’t get back overpaid aid or let it go

Amy J. Correnti |

It is not Sharon Abels’ fault that she got $9,000 in unemployment checks she wasn’t supposed to receive.

No one seems to dispute this. Not Abels, 65, who was thrilled to hear from the Illinois Department of Employment Security in 2008 that she was eligible for an extension of her benefits and had no reason to question the notice.

Nor does the state employment agency, which has ruled Abels owes the money but hasn’t sued her to recoup the $9,000 or alleged any fraud took place.

Only one problem: The state lacks the authority to forgive Abels’ debt. It’s bound by law to try to collect the money. Read more.

By bridging post-9/11 income gap, some fell far behind

Amy J. Correnti |

When the Federal Aviation Administration shut down the nation’s airspace after the 9/11 terror attacks, Dale Adams assumed it would only be a few days before he’d be back in the air.

Instead, Adams, owner of Blue Sky Banners and mayor of Rockton, found his business severely curtailed even as the country slowly retook the skies. Read more.

Job-poaching campaigns have mixed success in Illinois

Rockford Register Star |

For months, drivers had a hard time leaving Illinois without passing a billboard begging the state’s businesses to leave the Land of Lincoln, too.

Both Wisconsin and Indiana launched separate but equally pointed public relations campaigns after Gov. Pat Quinn approved a set of tax rate hikes in January. Although both states have cooled their ad campaigns, other states — South Dakota being the latest — continue to make public pushes in the Prairie State for disaffected Illinois businesses. Read more.