Historic numbers of unemployment claims filed in Illinois since March has led to a historic amount of benefits being paid out over the first four months of the year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says they’ve processed 1,006,925 initial unemployment claims from March 1 to May 2.
“That’s over 1 million claims in just the first 9 weeks of this crisis,” Pritzker said Thursday during his daily coronavirus press briefing. “Compare that to the first nine weeks of the Great Recession of 2008, when there were 180,000 claims in Illinois.”
As a result of the unprecedented number of unemployment claims in Illinois, Pritzker adds the amount of benefits paid out by the state has reached a historic total.
“In the first 4 months of 2020, Illinois has paid out over $2 billion in claims. That’s $500 million more than what was paid out in all 12 months of 2019,” Pritzker said on Thursday.
Pritzker also detailed the effort Illinois has made in response to technical issues residents have reported while attempting to file unemployment claims.
“For those reaching out over the phone, our new call center is now up and running. And we continue to scale it up with 200 additional agents taking calls by next week,” Pritzker said.
The increased number of call center agents comes as Pritzker announced a plan that will provide assistance to independent workers starting next week.
“Beginning Monday, IDES will process claims for 1099-workers, including independent contractors and sole proprietors, self-employed individuals, and many others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment,” Pritzker said. “Under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA program, claimants can receive up to 39 weeks of benefits backdated to the first week of unemployment. “
Those in need of assistance with unemployment benefits are encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov.