Unemployment soars in Illinois; State scrambles to assist

State News

(WGN) — Illinois unemployment rate has soared suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over just three days last week, 64,000 Illinoisans submitted new applications for unemployment. That is 10 times the number from the same time a year ago.

Due to the virus, no in-person applications are being accepted. Everything is being done online and over the phone.

Over the weekend, demand reached critical mass.

The systems that we had that were supporting the online applications wasn’t robust enough to take all the applications that were coming in at one time,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday.

The state pivoted and put the online unemployment website onto a bigger server to serve the massive demand and it is up and running again.

The state is still scrambling to serve those opting to call in with questions.

“We had to take non-essential staff and push them up to the phone lines,” Pritzker said. “If you need to apply, go to the website, it will be able to do more. At the same time, we want to fulfill people’s need during this crisis and we’re going to.”

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