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Lawmakers aim to boost Asian-American employment

Asian-American community leaders are praising Illinois lawmakers for expanding measures to track and boost minority hiring at state agencies to their own group. Legislators this week passed House Bill 4510, which would implement plans to “increase the number of Asian State employees in supervisory, technical, professional, and managerial positions.” Under the proposal, Asians would have the same consideration that the State Employment Records Act provides Hispanics and bilingual people. Another law affords African-Americans the same status.

Tuyet Le of the Chicago-based Asian American Institute says Asian-American state employees tend to cluster in some industries, like technology, but their presence is sparse in other fields. “We don’t really see very many in health and human service providers or the Department of Motor Vehicles, so where you see front-line staff who interact with the public more,” said Le. Le hopes that as agencies begin to hire more Asian-Americans, non-English speakers will more easily access state services.

According to Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), Asian-Americans make up about 5 percent of Illinois’ population, but only about 2.5 percent of state employees. Munoz’s senate district includes Chicago’s Chinatown, and he sponsored the change. Governor Pat Quinn has already signalled that he intends to sign the bill.

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