Unemployment in Illinois increases, after Feb. historic low

Unemployment in Illinois increases, after Feb. historic low
Unemployment graphic. (Source: Associated Press)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS) - On Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker and IDES announced they are taking more steps to address the volume of unemployment benefit claims the department has received as a result of COVID-19.

They said the department has taken several steps to improve process online and by phone.

  •  The website has been moved to new hardware infrastructure to handle the increased demand
  •  Web, storage, and processing capacity has been increased to meet needs of increased traffic
  •  Methods have been implemented to track COVID-19-related claims
  •  Call center capacity has been increased
  •  Daily call center hours have been extended to respond to those waiting in the queue after closure
  •  Call center staff has been supplemented by 40 percent to cut down on wait times
  •  Both the website and the call center will continue to be monitored for improvements in functions and abilities

In addition, IDES is asking people to adhere to an alphabetized schedule when filing an unemployment benefit claim online and over the phone.

The online filing schedule is:

  •  Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays. 
  •  Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
  •  Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

The call center filing schedule is:

  •  Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm. 
  •  Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
  •  Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

The day or time of day a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. Also, the claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a person was laid off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced the unemployment rate fell 3.4 percent, a new record low in February.

The state is responding to a surge of unemployment claims in March due to the impacts of COVID-19. March unemployment claims total 133,763 compared to 27,493 over the same period in 2019.

Compared to a year ago, non-farm payroll employment increased by 18,300 jobs with the largest gains in: Educational and Health Services, Government and Financial Activities.

The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines were: Manufacturing, Professional and Business Services and Trade, Transportation and Utilities.

Illinois non-farm payrolls were up +0.3 percentage point over-the-year as compared to the nation’s +1.6 percent over-the-year gain in January.

The number of unemployed workers decreased from the prior month, -3.9 percent to 218,800, a new record low, and was down -22.2 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was down -0.3 percent over-the-month and -1.1 percent over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment.

An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

IDES maintains the state’s largest job search engine, Illinois Job Link, to help connect job seekers to employers who are hiring, which recently showed 62,951 posted resumes with 97,074 jobs available.

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