72,000 File Unemployment Last Week, April Unemployment Rate 16.4%

By Benjamin Cox on May 22, 2020 at 6:27am

The Illinois Department of Employment Security processed over 72,000 new initial unemployment claims for the week ending May 16th. IDES also announced today that the unemployment rate for the month of April was 16.4%. It’s the highest unemployment rate the state has seen since 1976. The department has now processed 1,226,394 claims for unemployment benefits from March 1st through May 16th. This amount is 12 times the number of claims the department processed over the same period last year.

IDES Spokesman Sam Salustro says particular sectors of the economy were hit harder than others: “As anyone could guess, the sector that was hit the greatest was in the Leisure & Hospitality industries as we have seen a decrease in food and drinking establishment retail and hospitality retail. We also saw decreases in the professional business services, trade, and transportation.”

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, launched May 11, processed 74,515 initial claims in its first week. IDES processed 36,367 Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims (PEUC), which provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of 100% federally funded benefits to individuals who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Todd Maisch says it is its own crisis: ““We are calling on Governor Pritzker to begin including unemployment numbers in his metrics for Illinois’ reopening plan. Over 16 percent unemployment is its own crisis and the unemployment statistics need to be considered on equal footing with public health metrics. The administration has assembled a team of public health officials charged with bringing down COVID-19 statistics. The administration needs to appoint a team that is every bit as committed to bringing down the unprecedented figure of 16.4 percent unemployment in Illinois. Taking unemployment into account would encourage a more comprehensive and equitable reopening that incorporates ideas from the business community, like those in Senate Bill 3993 that Leader [Bill] Brady introduced yesterday.”

The state’s unemployment rate was 1.7 percentage point higher than the record high national unemployment rate reported for April, which was 14.7 percent, up 10.3 percentage points from the previous month. Morgan County’s numbers should be available some time next week.