(AP) Opportunities long closed to Illinois residents with criminal records are beginning to open as employers seek new sources of talent and lawmakers bet that gainful employment will reduce recidivism. Illinois lawmakers have changed licensing laws to make at least 100 occupations more accessible to people with a criminal background. The state has also expanded the types of convictions that can be sealed and therefore hidden from most employers, the Chicago Tribune reported . Illinois residents with criminal records or arrest histories account for 42 percent of the state’s population, according to the National Employment Law Project. Giving convicted felons consideration for a job is increasingly being embraced as necessary, advocates say.