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State processing COVID-19-related spike in unemployment claims

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) released numbers on Friday showing how dramatically the COVID-19 pandemic has affected employment in Illinois.

The department processed 102,937 initial unemployment claims for the week ending April 18 and has processed more than 755,000 initial unemployment claims from March 1 through April 18, 12 times the number of claims the department processed over the same period last year.

From March 1 through April 16, the department paid out more than $700 million in benefits.  In the first two weeks of April alone, IDES paid more than $500 million in unemployment benefits to claimants. 

This week, IDES rolled out the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (FPEUC) program, which provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of federally funded benefits to individuals who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits.

To date, IDES has overhauled its website infrastructure, expanded web and call center capacity, and secured third party vendor partnerships to further implement and streamline new programs that enhance filing capabilities. The department is developing a call center that will nearly double current call capacity.

IDES waived the waiting week for claimants and implemented the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional $600 each week in federally funded benefits to eligible Illinoisans. 

The CARES Act also created Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUA), a new program for people who are not typically covered by the state’s unemployment system and the department is contracting with Deloitte to launch this system in May.

Anyone with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefits is encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov.

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