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Weekly unemployment filings in Illinois decrease – but still cross 100K

While weekly numbers keep decreasing, Illinois residents continue to file for unemployment benefits at record-high numbers due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois residents filed 102,736 claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to preliminary numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s an about 27% decrease from the revised total of 141,160 for the week ending April 11, according to Illinois Department of Employment Security numbers on April 16.

Illinois received more than 757,000 initial unemployment claims from March 1 to April 18, according to state data. That’s more than the total number of initial claims for all of 2019 – which was more than 476,000 – and more than four times the amount of claims filed in the first two months of the 2008 Great Recession, per the state data.

The update comes after IDES said in an April 16 news release the unemployment rate rose to 4.6% in March. There were 292,300 civilians who were out of work in March and more than 6 million employed, according to state data.

IDES officials said in the April 16 release the number of unemployed workers in Illinois “increased sharply from the prior month.” That amounted to a 33.6% increase in jobless workers from February to March.

The unemployment rate in Illinois was 3.4%, with more than 218,800 unemployed civilians and 6,180,025 employed in February. IDES officials said in a March 26 news release that was a new record low for the state.

The uptick in claims caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses being affected by the state’s stay-at-home order overloaded the IDES online filing system. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker had said the state’s unemployment filing systems were built a decade ago for fewer claims and it wasn’t able to keep up with spiking unemployment numbers.

State employment security officials have said the IDES website infrastructure has been overhauled, the call center capacity has been expanded and private partnerships have been secured to expand the capacity in its existing systems and to implement new programs.

Those new programs include the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC, program, that provides an additional $600 each week in federally funded benefits to eligible state residents has been implemented. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, program, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, program, will be fully implemented in the coming weeks.

There were 293,948 unemployment claims filed in March – amounting to a more than 1,150% increase in total filed unemployment claims in March 2020 from February 2020 – in northern Illinois according to state data released earlier this month. There were at least three-digit percentage increases in each of the 16 counties within the Shaw Media Illinois coverage area, including Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, La Salle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Whiteside and Will counties.

DuPage County saw the largest percentage increase – 1,460% – in filed unemployment claims in March from February out of the 16 counties, according to state unemployment data. There were 28,447 filed claims in March 2020 and 1,823 filed claims in February 2020.

Ogle County saw the smallest percentage increase – 297% – in filed unemployment claims in March from February. There were 1,393 filed claims last month and 351 filed claims in February 2020.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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