Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. The Illinois Department of Employment Security processed over 102,000 initial new unemployment claims for the week ending April 18th. The State of Illinois has now processed over 755,000 claims from March 1st through April 18th. This is 12 times the number of claims the department processed over the same period last year, when IDES processed just 61,000 initial unemployment claims. March unemployment for Morgan County sat at 3.3%. April’s numbers will be released sometime during the second week in May.
From March 1st through April 16th, IDES has paid out more than $700 million in benefits. This week, IDES rolled out the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of federally funded benefits to individuals who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits.
IDES has had to vastly overhaul and adapt its infrastructure since the pandemic. The volume of claims has crashed its website multiple times, and many who have tried to file claims still cannot get them to go through. IDES is now working with third party vendors to combat some of the strain. The department is working with Deloitte to set up a website for gig economy workers who now are eligible to receive and file for unemployment benefits. Governor J.B. Pritzker has said the gig economy workers will eventually get access to those benefits next month.