$300-A-Week Unemployment Benefit To Remain To September: Pritzker

$300-A-Week Unemployment Benefit To Remain To September: Pritzker

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CHICAGO — Despite the end of restrictions on Illinois businesses associated with the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker reiterated that his administration has no plans to end additional unemployment insurance benefits.

The additional $300 a week in supplemental federal payments are set to expire Sept. 6, but officials in more than half of states have announced plans to end the additional federal subsidy by the end of next month.

Pritzker rejected arguments that the added financial support was keeping people from returning to the workforce. Rather, he cited a lack of available child care as a major factor keeping people out of the labor force, particularly women.

“Those people who are complaining and saying that the $300 benefit is keeping people from going back to work are not taking into account the other reasons that people are choosing not to go back to work right now — who cannot get back to work,” Pritzker said Thursday at an unrelated news conference.

“Why? One: child care. They need to get their kids enrolled,” he said. “Two — and this is important — there are people who are still very, very concerned. The pandemic is still out there. There are people who are unvaccinated, right? We’re still only nearing 70 percent of first doses. That means 30 percent of our population, and this is the adult population, is as yet unvaccinated entirely.

“So I can understand that there are people that remain concerned,” he continued. “It may take them some time to work on that concern.”

More than two dozen Republican-led states have announced plans to end one or more of the pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs extended in March by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.

Nationwide, new jobless claims rose to 412,000 last week, the Labor Department said — about 37,000 more than the previous week — after falling steadily since late May.

But in Illinois, new jobless claims fell to 27,812, down from 29,231 the week before, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The expanded unemployment program benefits more than 750,000 Illinoisans and 16 million workers nationwide, according to The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

Illinois will see more than $4.5 billion in federal benefits, out of more than $100 billion in federal funds at stake nationwide, through the scheduled end of the supplemental unemployment insurance benefit programs.

Last week, Pritzker lifted remaining statewide restrictions on businesses and activities as he moved to “fully reopen” the state by shifting to the final phase of his Restore Illinois coronavirus reopening plan.

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