(The Center Square) – The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports just over 39,000 new unemployment claims were filed during the week of June 29 in Illinois, a 327 percent increase over the same time last year.
As more people file for benefits, problems persist with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, which oversees unemployment benefits. There are stories of people experiencing difficulties filing initial claims and re-certifying for benefits. Kayleen Carlson, the executive director of the political action group Illinois Rising Action, said she wants to hear from management.
“Where is the director of IDES?” Carlson said. “The fact that he has yet to really publicly come out and address these issues is quite telling.”
IDES has implemented a call-back-only model in what it is calling a temporary solution to honor the order in which callers attempt to reach the call center for assistance.
One segment of the unemployed population that has been especially hard hit in Illinois are teens, specifically those between 16 and 19 years old. Orphe Divounguy, chief economist for the Illinois Policy Institute, said Illinois has the worst youth employment rate in the Midwest.
“All of our research shows that we had one of the harshest lockdowns in the country, especially food and accommodation businesses, like restaurants and hotels,” Divounguy said.
Youth employment in the state dropped more than 40 percent since last year, making Illinois the worst state for the employment of 16 to 19-year-olds in the Midwest, and the 11th worst state in the nation, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Divounguy said there is a ripple effect.
“When people are not at work, when people are suffering and can’t pay their bills and struggle to put food on the table, crime rates increase,” he said.