Everything you need to know about Illinois unemployment

Everything you need to know about Illinois unemployment

The Illinois Department of Employment Security was ill-prepared to handle record numbers of unemployed workers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, was slow to distribute federal help, exposed Illinoisans' private information, then lefts thousands on hold awaiting answers. Here's the latest.


Days Illinois Department of Employment Security offices were all closed to the public. Four unemployment offices reopened Aug. 26, but by appointment only.


Calls awaiting a response from IDES staff, as of Sept. 2.


Illinoisans collecting unemployment benefits, as of Aug. 21.

$22 million

Amount spent through a no-bid contract to fix Illinois’ obsolete unemployment system and establish a call center.

Illinois falls farther behind national economic recovery in July

8/23/21: Despite the strongest jobs report in months, Illinois’ unemployment rate remains high as the U.S. rate continues to drop.

Pritzker’s economic record: weak labor market, widening racial gaps

8/11/21: Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced his reelection bid on July 19 with the key pillar of his campaign being his record on “protecting the lives and livelihoods of the people of Illinois.” Look at the “livelihoods” in Illinois, and that quickly looks like a poor campaign decision.

Illinois unemployment accounts repeatedly hijacked by thieves

8/6/21: Unemployment benefits are being stolen by thieves who redirect the funds. Repeat victims say the problem is within Illinois Department of Employment Security computers, but the state won’t release data to pinpoint the problem.

State unemployment fraud could cost Illinoisans more than $1 billion

7/28/21: A recent report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security revealed the state lost at least $14.8 million to fraudsters during the pandemic. But experts warn the full extent of state fraud could be closer to $1 billion.

Black workers suffer most from Illinois’ slow recovery from COVID-19

7/19/21: Some parts of Illinois’ job markets are recovering, but not for Black Illinoisans. Many jobs are still missing from before COVID-19, including over one-third of the leisure and hospitality jobs.

$51,627 in unemployment benefits for average salaried parent in Illinois

7/16/21: Illinois employers are hurting from a lack of workers while the state unemployment rate remains high. When a parent can stay home and make $51,627 on unemployment, the prospects of getting more workers back to work this summer appear dim.

Illinois may pay bonuses to get workers to take jobs again

7/8/21: To combat above-average unemployment, Illinois state leaders discussed a possible back-to-work bonus. The state would pay cash to those who go off unemployment.

Illinois workers 26% less likely to find a job in May than other workers

6/23/21: Illinois lost jobs in May as the state’s workers found themselves facing a tougher job hunt than workers in other states.

Illinois unemployment fund faces potential $8 billion deficit

6/21/21: Historic unemployment payouts related to the COVID-19 shutdowns left Illinois’ fund billions in the hole. State leaders did nothing to fix it, meaning there could be reduced benefits for the unemployed or higher taxes on employers trying to recover.

Illinois ranks 7th worst in U.S. for pandemic unemployment assistance rollout

6/8/2021: Illinois was among the nation’s worst for delays in helping gig workers and the self-employed receive pandemic assistance unemployment payments, a federal audit found. Rampant fraud and inadequate reporting was also discovered nationwide.

Illinois recovery stalls as state sheds 4,000 private sector jobs in April

5/21/2021: While total payrolls were up 300, private sector jobs took a beating in April and lost 4,000 positions. Illinois’ labor market completely stalled as the national economic recovery slowed.

Thousands of Illinoisans await calls from state unemployment agency

5/7/2021: The Illinois Department of Employment Security had a backlog of 156K calls in February. Now, over a year into the pandemic, its offices remain closed to the public and 43K Illinoisans are awaiting a call from IDES.

School closures keep over 28,000 Illinois moms out of work

5/7/2021: States that have re-opened schools have also increased labor force participation of mothers, evidence suggests.

FOX 32 Chicago investigation with Illinois Policy Institute

Illinois’ unemployment pain hits all regions as recovery lags Midwest

4/22/2021: Illinois’ unemployment rate remains the highest in the Midwest despite March jobs growth. Unemployment is high across the state compared to the region.

552K Illinoisans getting or seeking unemployment benefits a year into COVID-19

3/18/2021: A year into COVID-19 and 552,000 Illinois workers are still in need of jobs. Despite that, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is asking for as much as $2 billion in new taxes on the small businesses that create most Illinois jobs.

Illinois unemployment claims approaching COVID-19 lockdown levels

12/17/2020: New unemployment claims are rising in Illinois, hitting 142,745 last week as COVID-19 restrictions continue.

Your story: Unemployed Illinoisans trying to cope

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