Unemployment still high in Illinois, but falling

(The Center Square) – Elevated unemployment continues in Illinois as more than 102,000 workers filed claims last week.

Though it is lower than the week prior, new claims for unemployment insurance were elevated well above normal levels in Illinois for the fifth week, coming in at 102,736 for the week ending April 18, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That was a decrease of 38,424 from the previous week’s 141,160 but still well above the numbers seen before the COVID-10 pandemic hit the United States.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.0 percent for the week ending April 11, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous week’s unrevised rate,” the Department of Labor said in a news release. “This marks the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.”

Illinois Republicans have been calling for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to address the backload of unemployed residents who have been unsuccessfully applying for unemployment benefits. Pritzker has said the state’s Department of Employment Security has been shifting more employees to handle those claims.

As for reopening the thousands of businesses closed via his executive order, Pritzker said Wednesday that he was taking in data and information from the other nearby states Illinois has joined up with, but provided no concrete details.

“We have shared our best ideas and that’s really the purpose of this pact,” he said. “I will look at the common interest that we have and then look at those common things that are good for Illinois that come out of that pact.”

National unemployment claims were also continued to be well above historical norms, with 4.4 million claims filed across the United States. California led the nation with 533,568 claims, and West Virginia had the biggest jump in claims from the prior week with a 209 percent increase.

Another relief package expected to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday will provide another round of relief for small businesses that have been particularly hard-hit by the economic pause. The legislation has already been passed by the U.S. Senate and is expected to quickly be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

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