43,000 Illinoisans still awaiting call back from Illinois Department of Employment Security

May 12, 2021

Illinois Policy Institute releases tracker for agency call-back queue, monthly unemployment claims and a counter of how many days the IDES offices have been closed

PRESS RELEASE from the
ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE

CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

43,000 Illinoisans still awaiting call back from Illinois Department of Employment Security
Illinois Policy Institute releases tracker for agency call-back queue, monthly unemployment claims and a counter of how many days the IDES offices have been closed
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.

Adam Schuster, senior director of budget and tax research for the Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement:

“IDES was ill-prepared to handle record numbers of unemployed workers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and has left thousands on hold awaiting answers. State government is failing unemployed Illinoisans while they are struggling to find jobs, effectively denying them the promised services they are owed. And high taxes imposed by the state inflate the cost of operating a business and hiring workers.

“Illinois’ job outlook is not good, and Pritzker’s drive for more taxes on job creation isn’t helping.”

For a comprehensive list tracking the IDES call-back queue, monthly unemployment claims and a counter of how many days the IDES offices have been closed, visit illin.is/IDES.

For bookings or interviews, contact media@illinoispolicy.org or (312) 607-4977.