The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on
the United States economy, leading to an unprecedented number of
unemployment claims. Through the five weeks from March 1 to April 4,
Illinois received 513,173 initial unemployment claims. That is
greater than the total number of initial claims for the entirety of
2019 (489,831) and five times greater than the claims filed in the
first five weeks of the 2008 great recession.
“The challenges workers and families are facing today is something
my whole administration thinks about each day as we are
simultaneously attempting to fend off the health consequences of
coronavirus,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We are working around the
clock at all levelsto provide unemployment benefits to the
unprecedented number of Illinoisans who have lost their jobs to the
spread of COVID-19. I will continue to do everything in my power to
get our residents the support they need to get through this crisis.”
The administration moved swiftly to increase capacity on the
Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) website and ramp
up efforts at the IDES call center to meet the unparalleled number
of unemployment claims. Since March 1, the IDES website has fielded
over 6.5 million sessions and the IDES call center has processed
thousands of calls per day.
To meet the needs of applicants and claimants, the administration
and IDES overhauled the IDES website infrastructure, expanded the
call center capacity and secured private partnerships to expand
capacity in its existing systems and implementation of new programs.
Recognizing the immense financial challenges facing working families
during this time, the administration filed emergency rules to ease
eligibility requirements, waived the waiting week for claimants,
acted quickly to implement Federal Pandemic Unemployment
Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs.
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Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
FPUC provides an additional $600 each week in 100% federally funded
benefits to anyone entitled to regular state unemployment benefits.
FPUC is available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and
continuing through the week ending July 25, 2020.
The administration acted immediately to implement
this federal program and provide much needed resources to Illinois
residents. As a result, IDES began disbursing funds through this
program, starting the week of April 5, 2020, which was the first
week the federal legislation allowed FPUC to be paid. From March 29,
2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020, benefits will be applied
automatically to claimants who qualify
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
PUA provides 100% federally funded unemployment benefits for
individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related
reasons and are not covered through other avenues in the
unemployment insurance program, including self-employed sole
proprietors and independent contractors. IDES is contracting with
Deloitte to implement and maintain a web-based solution for PUA as
quickly as possible. IDES will have this program fully implemented
by the week of May 11.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
PEUC Provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of 100 percent federally funded
benefits to individuals who have exhausted their rights to regular
state unemployment benefits of up to 26 weeks in Illinois. PEUC is
potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020
and continuing through the week ending December 26, 2020. PEUC will
be retroactive once implemented. IDES received USDOL guidelines on
April 10 and expects to have the program fully implemented the week
of April 20.
[Office of the Governor JB Pritzker]