Winger's Weekly Wrap-up

Dog Days of Summer
Carol Stream Park District’s annual dog festival. One of the largest dog festivals in the Chicago suburbs CS Barks is being held on Sunday. Join thousands of dogs from the area who bring their owners for a day of four-legged fun. Entry is free!  Find out more.

Jobs – Illinois labor force
Illinois payroll drops by 8,200 jobs in August. The monthly jobs and unemployment report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a 30-day drop of 8,200 in Illinois’ seasonally-adjusted nonfarm payroll jobs. This key employment number declined from 6,016,900 in July 2016 to 6,008,700 in August.

More than one-half, or 4,400, of the new job losses were posted by the manufacturing sector. The making and supporting of goods assembled or packaged in factories now accounts for less than one-tenth of Illinois’ total nonfarm payroll jobs. In August 2016, 568,400 workers labored in or around Illinois factories, less than 9.5% of Illinois’ total employment of 6.0 million. Parts of the August job losses posted by Illinois in manufacturing, construction, mining and other sectors were made up by continued job growth in leisure, hospitality, professional services and business services. These sectors have done well in past months in Illinois and continued to add new jobs in August 2016.

The overall unemployment rate dropped in Illinois in August 2016 from 5.8% to 5.5%. Much of the decline was attributed to “discouraged workers” dropping out of the labor force or leaving Illinois entirely. Approximately 20,000 Illinois residents dropped out of the labor market in August 2016. Illinois’ unemployment rate continued to be significantly higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 4.9% for the same month. The IDES jobs report was released on Thursday, September 15.

Chicago – Art Institute of Chicago
Major art museum honored. The widely-read travel advice aggregation service TripAdvisor ranked the Art Institute of Chicago as the 2nd-highest-ranking art museum in the world, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The list ranked Chicago’s largest art museum in a class with Russia’s Hermitage, Paris’s Musée d’Orsay and Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology.

TripAdvisor’s “Travelers’ Choice Awards” are partly based on ratings granted to an attraction by the websites’ users. The Art Institute of Chicago has substantive collections that cross a wide variety of genres and specialties, with a particular emphasis on French Impressionist and American Realist works. The museum welcomes approximately 1.5 million visitors annually.

Criminal law – sex offenders
Law enforcement admits 15% of Illinois registered sex offenders have no known address. Under the Sex Offender Registration Act, persons adjudicated by the courts for a variety of sex offenses are required to register as sex offenders. For a sex offender, registration requires going to that agency of local law enforcement with jurisdiction over the offender’s home address. If the offender is employed in a different jurisdiction than his or her home address, he or she must register separately with the police force that has jurisdiction over his or her place of employment. The duty to register is not voluntary, and failure to register is a Class 3 felony (2 to 5 years in State prison) for which the offender may be re-arrested and prosecuted. Local police share this information with the Illinois State Police; who compile and maintain a statewide list of registered Illinois sex offenders, the Illinois State Police Sex Offender Registry. The registry is sorted by each registrant’s name and address; and includes photographs posted online.

Many sex offenders do not want to register, but if they are being released from prison they often have little choice. Initial sex-offender registration is often performed, as part of the process of parole, in the course of a prisoner’s release from jail or imprisonment to a known home address. Nearly 3,000 convicted sex offenders are registered with the Sex Offender Registry.

However, these registered sex offenders often move from their first post-conviction address to a new address. Many of these registered offenders fulfill their legal duty and re-register under their new address. Currently, 455 of the 3,000 have failed to re-register. They continue to be registered with their name, photograph, and other identifying information on file, but their current location is “unknown.”

Education – flunking out
Illinois State Board of Education looks at repealing law that allows local schools to flunk out students. The law, which is a descendant of policies that have been in place since the start of the Illinois public school system, allows school districts to drop a student age 17 and older from its enrollment roster for failing to meet minimum academic and attendance standards. This policy is a classic example of a policy that helps the school but does not help the student, because few teenaged students that are classified as having “flunked out” ever recover their academic standing. Many of them see themselves as high school drop-outs. Aware of this, some Illinois school districts have already adopted policies on their own that either minimize or do not provide for ‘flunking out.’ Instead, they classify each challenged student and provide them with open-ended invitations to continue their schooling.

Now, the State Board of Education is looking at a major change in overall Illinois educational policy. A new law would replace the “flunking out” law. Under what are expected to be major features of the proposed new law, each challenged teenaged student will be presented with what will amount to a perpetual series of invitations to get assessed, to get his or her challenges specifically identified, and to return to school work under conditions that will allow these specific challenges to be met.

Under State and federal law and the policies of many individual school districts, many challenged students are already eligible for individualized assessments and modified educational trajectories, including educational pathways for students with behavioral challenges and pathways for young-adult special education.

Health care – Zika virus
Case count reaches 60 in Illinois. The Zika virus has received heavy coverage in the U.S. press in recent months because of the correlation of the infection with severe potential consequences to unborn children. The number reflects nine new cases reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health since September 7.

IDPH’s Zika website reports that the epicenter of the illness continues to be the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The species types of mosquito capable of carrying and spreading the virus can live in tropical and subtropical environments. IDPH urges all Illinois residents who have returned from a country in these regions where Zika virus is circulating and who have symptoms of Zika in the two weeks following their return to call their doctor and report their travel history and symptoms.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a webpage that describes Zika symptoms. They include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms may last from several days to one week.

Higher education – U.S. News ranking
Illinois public colleges sport national rankings. In the widely-cited U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges List,” the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign once again scored highest among Illinois public colleges and universities, notching the 44th spot nationwide. The numerically-based “Best Colleges List” utilizes data that includes graduation rates, sophomore retention rates, class sizes, proportion of faculty that is full-time, student SAT/ACT scores, and survey data from peer admissions directors and student-supplier high school counselors.

Other Illinois public colleges were also nationally ranked, with Illinois State University (ISU) tied with the University of Illinois-Chicago for the 152th ranking. Northern Illinois University was #214. Three colleges affiliated with Illinois private universities were ranked among the top 100 colleges in the U.S., with the University of Chicago being ranked #3 nationwide, Northwestern credited with the 12th spot, and Loyola rated #99.

Labor – Family sick leave and bereavement leave
New Illinois laws expand employee leave in family situations. The Child Bereavement Leave Act was signed into law on July 29. The new law requires Illinois employers with 50 or more employees to grant up to 10 days (two work weeks) of unpaid leave to eligible full-time employees who have lost a child. The leave most be preceded by 48 hours of notice, except in emergency situations, and most be completed within 60 days after the child’s death. In many cases, Illinois employers are choosing to voluntarily pay workers who take bereavement leave.

A separate bill, the Employee Sick Leave Act, was also signed this summer but will not go into effect until January 1, 2017. The new law concentrates on employers who voluntarily provide their employees with paid sick leave. It expands the permissible use of this sick leave to cover time needed to care for the employer’s immediate family members, including parents-in-law and grandparents. Employment law consultants are informing Illinois employers of the two new laws.

Fall in Illinois – Monarch butterflies
Migratory insects are favorites of many Illinoisans, but numbers dwindle. Illinois volunteers, who number how many migrating orange-and-black fliers return to feeding patches each year, say the 2016 count of monarch butterflies is less than half of what it was last year. The sad news has reminded Illinoisans that the far-flying insects are dependent on conditions outside of Illinois, including breeding grounds in Canada and along the U.S. northern border, as well as the butterflies’ wintering grounds in Mexico. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has convened a Monarch Butterfly Summit to call attention to the possible re-dedication of eligible patches of Illinois land to migratory habitat and to build international publicity for further efforts to save the increasingly threatened species. The Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, a volunteer group, tracks and monitors butterfly numbers throughout the State.

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