Illinois unemployment claims soar to 64,000 in three days

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By Dana Kozlov, Samah Assad

CHICAGO (CBS) — In the three days since Illinois Governor Pritzker ordered all sit-down restaurants and bars to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment claims have exploded.

Monday through Wednesday, Illinois received more than 64,000 claims for unemployment benefits. That number for Tuesday and Wednesday was 41,000. In the same two days in 2019, the state reported 4,445 claims.

The trend is similar in other states, like Ohio, which reportedly handled 48,640 claims over the last two days compared to 1,825 claims during the same two days last week. It is unclear how many of those claims are directly related to the restaurant and bar sector.

Just in December, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that the unemployment rate fell -0.1 percentage point to 3.8 percent, a new historical low.

Pritzker announced Sunday afternoon that all restaurants and bars in Illinois would closing until March 30 in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Drive thru and curbside service is still allowed. Uber Eats says it will waive fees for delivery by independent restaurants. 

Restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other tipped workers can now receive emergency cash if affected by the coronavirus.

The One Fair Wage campaign has launched an emergency cash relief fund and is offering $213 in cash for any tipped worker affected after some states including Illinois temporarily shut down bars and restaurants to stop the spread of the virus. The organization is also seeking donations to help fund the effort.

IDES said it has extended the call center hours, added call center staff members, and continue to monitor and improve the performance of the website to handle the bandwidth of increased traffic.

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