Nearly 115,000 Illinoisans applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than 10 times previous week’s number
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Nearly 115,000 Illinoisans applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than 10 times previous week’s number

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STATEHOUSE

The Illinois State Capitol is shown in March 2017. 

CHICAGO — Nearly 115,000 Illinoisans applied for unemployment insurance last week, as the number of workers laid off or furloughed amid the new coronavirus pandemic continued to mount.

Unemployment claims are breaking records nationwide as the U.S. economy shuts down in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Illinois residents have been ordered to stay at home and nonessential businesses told to close. Nearly every industry has been touched, and many are without work.

Nationwide, nearly 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982.

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The most recent numbers for Illinois reflect claims filed for the week ending March 21. That’s up more than 10 times from the previous week, according to a U.S. Department of Labor news release.

The unprecedented number of claims has overwhelmed the state’s systems, creating technical difficulties for those filing for benefits. To better handle the influx, the state moved its online application portal to a more expansive software platform, extended call center hours and added call center staff.

Still, people around the state continue to encounter difficulties. And the number of those seeking benefits is expected to rise.


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