SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic nearly quadrupled unemployment in Illinois and cost more than 762,000 jobs in April alone, according to new figures released Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports unemployment in Illinois jumped from 4.2 percent in March to 16.4 percent in April. That’s over 12 percent higher than the same period last year, and is 1.7 percent higher than the national unemployment rate for April.
“This is a tremendously disturbing problem that everybody in the country is facing – the high unemployment, the number of people who have been furloughed, laid off, perhaps permanently,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said Thursday.
The total number of unemployed people reached 1,004,400, a new record high for Illinois, which is also 270 percent greater than the same month in 2019. Following national trends, leisure and hospitality sectors were hit hardest, with 295,300 jobs lost.
Additionally, IDES reports it received over 1.2 million unemployment claims between March 1 and May 16, 12 times the number of claims over the same period last year. This staggering number of initial claims suggests official unemployment tallies will continue to rise.
As COVID-19 testing and contact tracing continues to expand across Illinois, state officials said 29,307 tests were performed statewide over the past 24 hours, the highest single-day total to date.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,268 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 87 additional deaths Thursday, bringing statewide totals up to 102,686 cases and 4,607 coronavirus-related deaths.
Additionally, all regions of the state remain on track for Phase 3 in the governor’s Restore Illinois plan, according to the latest data.
Counties, cities and local communities across the state are working to find ways to safely reopen as stay-at-home restrictions begin to be lifted in the next phase — which begins on May 29 — and beyond.
While Pritzker recently updated “Phase 3” rules to allow bars and restaurants to reopen with outdoor seating and specific guidelines, Mayor Lightfoot said Chicago likely won’t be ready for open-air dining right away.
A Ford Assembly plant in Chicago also remained closed for a second day Thursday after it was forced to shut its doors shortly after reopening when employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials in Romeoville said Thursday they will hold multiple Fourth of July fireworks displays across the village so people can celebrate the holiday from their homes.
Pritzker activated nearly 60 National Guard soldiers Thursday to assist with flood prevention and recovery efforts across Illinois. Many areas, especially those located next to major rivers, experienced flooding following days of heavy rain earlier this week.