Unemployment claims fall in Illinois, but decline ‘not good news,’ expert says

(The Center Square) – Fewer Illinoisans filed for unemployment last week, but the new numbers give additional insight into how the spread of COVID-19 is affecting the state’s economy.

According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor, 141,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week in Illinois. That is nearly 60,000 fewer than the week before.

Michael Lucci, president of the economic policy website 50economy, said that while the number of claims declined, the figures were not encouraging.

“I don’t think the decrease should be taken as good news because the figures are near record numbers of newly unemployed people filing for benefits,” Lucci said. “All those people who previously filed for benefits, it’s probably safe to assume that they are still unemployed.”

Nationwide, workers filed 5.2 million initial unemployment insurance claims in the week ending April 11.

Americans have filed a total of 22 million claims over the past four weeks, a rate of job loss never before seen in American history.

Lucci said the new data adjusts the real-time unemployment rate to 17.9 percent.

Illinois Department of Employment Security officials said that as of March 1, the department had processed more than 650,000 initial unemployment claims. That’s 12 times more than the number of claims filed during the same time period in 2019, when the department handled 53,000 initial unemployment claims. It is also five times the number processed during the first six weeks of the Great Recession, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

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