By Patrick Forrest
As the nation faces near record unemployment numbers, with recent April releases showing the national unemployment rate at 16.7 percent for African Americans nationwide, Illinois has taken steps to address the high volume of unemployment claims reported as a result of COVID-19 and to increase availability of resources for those most in need.
Those steps include bringing online a new IDES call center, hiring additional staff to process claims, launching the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, as well as increasing personnel and technology to expedite faster claims processing.
None of those steps are expected to grant more people access to the workforce than the Get Hired Illinois portal.
Job seekers are currently being encouraged to visit the new portal designed to connect workers with available job and career training opportunities across the state of Illinois often for updates on available opportunities. Illinois residents can access the Coursera platform on Illinois WorkNet beginning June 1, 2020.
“The financial stability and success of our residents is key to getting Illinois’ economy back on its feet,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois won’t be restored until our workers and families have the opportunities and resources they need to build and fill their lives. That’s why my administration is working with businesses and industries across the state to encourage more employers to utilize the Get Hired website.”
The new Get Hired portal blends IDES and DCEO resources to provide a one-stop-shop for both job seekers and employers—providing information on job opportunities as well as unemployment resources. The page is designed to be user-friendly for job seekers of all levels and backgrounds and allows employers to upload jobs, virtual career fairs and training opportunities.
“Through a partnership between IDES, DCEO and the Governor’s Office, the State’s new Get Hired portal was designed to bring both job seekers and employers into a virtual marketplace so they can connect on job and career opportunities in real time,” said Erin Guthrie, Director of DCEO. “The Get Hired portal works to solve a goal that’s two-fold – helping our job seekers return to work quickly and supporting our businesses in adding talented workers to help drive our economic recovery.”
The state also announced a new partnership with Coursera, providing workers looking for new employment opportunities additional resources for professional development. The partnership will help individuals navigate new career pathways, with a focus on training in the Information Technology field. After completing the online programs, participants will have the opportunity to continue in their studies at a local community college or university, or to connect with employers through their local workforce boards.
“As COVID-19 continues to impact Illinois workers and the job market, it is more important than ever to make employment resources easily available to those seeking work,” said Illinois Department of Employment Security Acting Director Thomas Chan. “Get Hired Illinois will change the way job-seekers and employers connect in the evolving economy.”
The programs may not be a fix for all workers however, with an increase in available unemployment payments and fear of the consequences of personal contact, some may still find it better to stay home.
“I’m making more now than I was before,” Maria Moore, a 27-year-old single mother said. “If they want to get me away from my son they can’t have me do that for less money.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security released new statewide data showing the department processed 72,671 new initial claims for regular unemployment benefits during the week ending May 9.
“I got on unemployment two weeks ago,” Moore said. “Until they can open everything up and do it safe, I don’t want to go back out there. That puts my family at risk.”
The department has now processed 1,076,461 claims for regular unemployment benefits from March 1 through May 9. This amount is nearly 11.5 times the number of claims the department processed over the same period last year, when IDES processed just 87,000 claims for regular unemployment benefits.