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When the subjects of jobs, unemployment, and small businesses come up on the House floor in Springfield, you can guarantee that State Representative Keith Wheeler will rise to be part of the conversation.

We talk with him about those issues and what needs to be done to help Illinois grow jobs.  In getting to know more about the representative, we hear about his passion for Chicago Bears football, Walter Payton, U-2, and an educator who influenced him not only in school but who has been a source of motivation ever since.

Budget – COGFA report
·        Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) issues monthly report on State tax revenues.  The nonpartisan arm of the Illinois General Assembly works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State departments to monitor ongoing revenues and maintain an information flow to State legislators on the current budget situation. 

In their “Monthly Briefing” which covers revenue facts and trends for November 2017, COGFA reports stable trends in both State revenues and the overall economy.  Pushed by higher income tax rates, November 2017 income tax revenues are up $394 million on a year-over-year basis when compared with parallel revenue numbers in November 2016.   Sales tax revenues rose by $54 million year-over-year.
JOBS
·         Unemployment rate drops in every Illinois metropolitan area.  Statistics published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a year-over-year unemployment rate cut in each of Illinois’ 102 counties.  The state gained 18,200 new nonfarm payroll jobs between October 2016 and October 2017, strengthening Illinois prosperity and consumer behavior.  The new numbers are based upon data compiled by state employers and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

As in previous months, new job creation was concentrated in local metropolitan areas that are economically oriented towards health care, health care research and development, financial services, and higher education.  The lowest rates of October 2017 joblessness were found in Bloomington-Normal (Illinois State University, State Farm), with 3.8%, and Lake County (Abbott Labs, Takeda Pharmaceuticals), with 3.9%.  Higher jobless rates were once again posted in traditionally manufacturing-oriented municipal areas, such as Danville (6.0%) and Decatur (5.2%).  

Many Downstate municipal areas have still not recovered from the so-called ‘Great Recession” that began in 2008-2009.  New job creation continues to be concentrated in the Chicago area.  While the State as a whole has generated 18,300 new payroll jobs over the most-recently-reported 12-month period, 26,100 new jobs were created during this time-span in greater Chicago including Lake County.  There continued to be a net loss of new jobs in Downstate Illinois during this period, with low unemployment numbers reflecting migration out of the region rather than the creation of a substantial number of net new jobs.  
NORTH AURORA –Small business owner and State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) is encouraging constituents in Kane and Kendall Counties to shop local this Saturday, November 25 in support of small and family-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, which has grown into a national tradition since its inception in 2010.  

There are 1.2 Million small businesses in Illinois, employing 2.4 Million people across the state. Small businesses account for 99.6% of all Illinois businesses, employing 46% of the state’s total workforce. Construction, real estate and arts, entertainment & recreation are the three largest small business employers in Illinois. Small business created 43,836 net jobs in Illinois in 2014.

“As a small business owner myself the past 26 years, I personally support the men and women of our local small business community and encourage all Fox Valley families to do the same,” Representative Wheeler said. “With this upcoming weekend being the busiest shopping weekend of the year, this is a terrific opportunity to rediscover the abundance of goods and services available here in our own backyard. By shopping local this Saturday, you are helping our community’s best and brightest entrepreneurs continue to provide jobs for thousands of Fox Valley families.”

For a directory of local businesses in your community, please click on any of the following links:


Representative Wheeler serves the 50th District, which includes portions of west suburban Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, Campton Hills, Elburn, Montgomery, Oswego, Plano, St. Charles, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.

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JOBS
·         Illinois Jobs Up in October - Unemployment Rate Declines.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced this week that the unemployment rate dipped by 0.1 percentage points to 4.9 percent in October and nonfarm payrolls increased by +3,400 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. September job growth was revised up to show a smaller decline (-7,900 jobs) than initially reported (-10,800 jobs). 

October’s monthly payroll drop kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. While Illinois job growth has had its ups and downs since the beginning of the year, the 3-month trend shows average declines of -2,300 jobs per month from August to October, while the six-month trend shows an increase of +1,900 average monthly job gains from May to October. Both the 3-month and the 6-month changes are better than reported last month.

“Month-to-month changes sometimes obscure important trends.” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Illinois’ unemployment rate remained at 5.0 percent or lower for eight months – the last time that happened was in mid-2007.”
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
·         House Republican Leader Jim Durkin authors key hotline section of sexual harassment bill sent to Governor.  The Durkin proposal would create a telephone hotline for persons seeking relief in cases of sexual harassment.  Examples of help that the hotline could provide could include assistance in filing a sexual harassment complaint, referral of a victim to counseling, or referral of a victim to protective services. 

The Durkin proposal was included in SB 402, the omnibus sexual harassment bill that was passed unanimously by the General Assembly this week and sent to the Governor for his signature.  Other sections of SB 402 provide for annual sexual harassment training sessions for State officers and employees, and create penalties for State officers and employees who violate the policies set forth in the training. The training sessions will include information to recipients of sexual harassment on how to report this conduct to the hotline and through other pathways.  SB 402 was part of a package of sexual harassment reforms passed in the wake of allegations of misconduct at the Capitol.  Leader Durkin authored the hotline section of the omnibus bill by sponsoring HB 4148, which was combined with other pieces to create the overall SB 402 sexual harassment bill.

Complaints of sexual harassment, other violations need 
prompt, unbiased review


(L to R: Rep. Batinick, Rep. Wehrli,
Rep. Wheeler)
Springfield…Recent reports that incidents of sexual harassment in the Illinois General Assembly are not promptly investigated, or are not even reported due to fear of retaliation, are proof that the legislative ethics review system is in need of a complete overhaul, stressed State Representative Grant Wehrli. Wehrli, along with Representatives Keith Wheeler and Mark Batinick, today introduced a series of reforms that will give deference to complainants in such cases, and ensure their claims receive a fair and unbiased review.

“I’m very pleased that after more than a year we finally have a Legislative Inspector General in place this week. I’m confident Julie Porter will do an excellent job. But there’s more we must do to correct the fundamental flaws in the process that for years have made harassment victims hesitant to come forward because they felt the system was stacked against them. It’s that bias that we’re targeting with these reforms,” said Rep. Wehrli (R-Naperville).

“Sexual harassment in any form is wholly unacceptable. Our State Capitol and all government offices must be places where legislators, staff, lobbyists and visitors treat each other with the utmost dignity and respect. Our legislation will help to make this expectation a reality by strengthening the legislative ethics review process,” said Rep. Wheeler (R-Oswego). “Victims of sexual harassment should always be made to feel safe in coming forward; and every perpetrator should be held accountable to their organization, caucus, or the proper authorities.”