At the same time, Gov. Pat Quinn announced that unemployment benefits are being extended by 13 weeks for those who exhaust their 26-week state benefits and 33-week federal benefits. The extended unemployment benefits went into effect April 5 and became payable this week.
There will be additional federal requirements to document your job search. If you're eligible for the extended benefits, Quinn said you'll be contacted through the mail and don't need to contact the state.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security released the new unemployment data Thursday. The March rate is 0.5 percent higher than February and the sixth consecutive month to record an increase.
Figures show 39,300 jobs were lost statewide in March, bringing job losses to 596,000, the highest number of job losses since September 1983.
“As the recession continues, so do our efforts to improve customer service and to inform people about programs that assess an individual’s work skills so they can better prepare themselves when the economy turns around,” IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell said. “We encourage workers to take advantage of this time by learning new skills and positioning themselves for better opportunities as this economy improves.”
Nationally, the total number of unemployed grew to 13.2 million in March, to 8.5 percent. That's its highest level in 25 years. National payroll employment declined for the 15th consecutive month, dropping by 663,000 jobs. That brings the total national job losses to 5.1 million since the recession began in December 2007.
In Illinois, the manufacturing sector lost the most jobs -- 14,200 -- its third-largest over-the-month reduction since January 1992. In the last year, this sector has dropped by 60,800 jobs, more than 9 percent of its total workforce. The professional and business services sectors reported 13,200 fewer workers..