CHICAGO (May 11, 2021) – Over a year after the state’s unemployment claims peaked, thousands of Illinoisans still await calls for assistance from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Freedom of Information Act requests show.
There were 43,355 calls from Illinoisans awaiting a response from IDES staff as of May 4, according to a FOIA request filed by Illinois Policy Institute as part of an ongoing watchdog project on the state entity. The Institute found 104,626 Illinoisans were awaiting calls on March 23, 2021 and 155,765 on Feb. 22, 2021.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean IDES is doing a better job of managing Illinoisans’ call volume. The decline in calls, researchers note, could be tied to the state’s downward trend in unemployment claims or callers giving up.
For unemployed workers seeking help, the phone is the only option. IDES offices have been closed for over 400 days. There is no date to reopen offices, and plans for virtual visits await technology purchases after July 1.
Illinoisans face the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest at 7.1%. Despite the unemployment problem, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed nine new taxes worth nearly $1 billion that would specifically hurt job creation.