Morgan County had record low unemployment in February. That’s all changed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in full force. Illinois’ unemployment rate hit 3.4% in the month of February. Morgan County’s unemployment rate was a tick higher at 3.5%, remaining steady from January. Scott County remained the highest in the 4-county region at 4.7%.
That’s all changed over the course of the last 31 days with the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that 6.6 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims during the week that ended March 28th, including 178,133 workers in Illinois. That’s a 1500% increase from the previous week’s filing. It brings the State of Illinois’ unemployment filing total between March 14th to March 28th to a filing record of 292,247.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security’s online filing website buckled tremendously under the weight of numbers of new claims. Multiple complaints have been filed with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office prompting a new process for filing for unemployment benefits.
IDES recently implemented an alphabet-based schedule for people to file online claims and for contacting the call center. People whose last names begin with A through M are asked to file online claims on Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays. They can contact the call center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
People with last names starting with N through Z are asked to file claims online claims on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They can contact the call center on Mondays and Wednesdays, 7:30 a.m. through 6 p.m. The call center is reserving Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for people who are unable to file claims during their allotted time.
With the stay at home order extended for another month, the unemployment claims are likely to continue to rise. Governor J.B. Pritzker said during his Wednesday COVID-19 briefing that it may call for Congress to pass another relief package for the American public on top of the record $2.2 trillion bill that passed last week.