More than 755,000 people in Illinois have filed for unemployment benefits

(The Center Square) – Twelve times the number of unemployment claims have been filed in Illinois in the past month and a half, but state employee union members are set to get a raise. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is looking for a federal bailout to the costs which employers expect to eventually cost them more.

Just last week, 102,000 initial unemployment claims were filed in Illinois. Since March 1, 755,000 have filed. This while state employee union members are set to get $261 million in raises come July 1.

Pritzker didn’t indicate he’s looking to delay those raises because of the emergency.

“That’s not something that we’re currently having discussions about,” Pritzker said. ”But as we look at the entire budget, and … we’re making sure that we’re meeting our obligations, hopefully with support from the federal government.”

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said he has heard from many constitutions who are out of work because of the governor’s stay-at-home order and they’re having trouble filing for unemployment benefits. He said this was happening while some state employees are at home not doing any work and still getting paid.

“That’s not right,” Skillicorn said. “You’ve got hundreds of thousands of people that are not being paid right now. You have gig workers who aren’t even expected to get paid until the middle of May. That’s weeks and weeks from now.”

Skillicorn said the past month’s shutdown imposed by the governor is hurting the private sector.

“Frankly, if the public sector workers were deprived of a paycheck just like the private sector workers, this shutdown would be over in a heartbeat,” Skillicorn said. “You’d see outrage across the state.”

State officials say they’ve processed more than 750,000 unemployment claims since the beginning of March and paid out $700 million in benefits.

National Federation of Independent Business Illinois State Director Mark Grant said the claims paid out likely means increased costs of unemployment insurance for employers down the road.

“And it’s going to be as they’re trying to get back on their feet and making money again and just staying alive, they’re going to have to come up with something,” Grant said. “They’re going to have to come up more money to pay for all of that.”


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