Illinois saw new unemployment claims rise for a second week as the rest of the nation continued putting people back to work.
Illinois recorded 74,944 new unemployment claims for the week ended Feb. 20, up from 62,369 new claims the week before. The continued rise came as new claims dropped by 111,000 last week across the U.S.
Those already receiving unemployment benefits dropped both in Illinois and in the U.S. for the week ending Feb. 13. Illinois saw 2,611 fewer workers receiving unemployment than a week earlier, for a total of 272,065 unemployed. That number across the nation was also down by 101,000 to 4.42 million for the week ended Feb. 13 from 4.52 million a week earlier. Benefits data lags new claims data by a week.
Illinois saw new claims spike when Tier 3 mitigation mandates were imposed Nov. 20 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, closing all indoor service at bars and restaurants as cold weather set in and made outdoor service difficult. Those restrictions were eased for most of the state Jan. 23, and have eased more since then.
Last week’s rise in new claims came as more employers faced fewer restrictions and as the state’s COVID-19 7-day positivity rate fell to 2.6%. The state recorded 2.3 million vaccine doses administered as of Feb. 24.
As businesses struggle to recover from COVID-19 and put people back to work, Pritzker proposed nine new taxes worth nearly $1 billion, mostly targeting employers and efforts intended to create jobs, as part of his fiscal year 2022 proposed budget.
That move comes after data reveals the COVID-19 crisis and Pritzker’s mandated closures hurt low-income households four times more than their better-off counterparts. Those families and women were more often employed in the leisure and hospitality sector, which suffered 40% more during 2020 in Illinois than across the U.S. Across all job sectors, 2020 was the worst year for jobs in Illinois history.
Raising taxes during an economic crisis defies the advice of most economists as well as common sense.