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July 7, 2008

Governor Blagojevich announces extended Unemployment Insurance benefits in Illinois

Governor Blagojevich announces extended Unemployment Insurance benefits in Illinois
Under new federal legislation, approximately 60,000 claimants could feel immediate relief with up to 13 more weeks of UI coverage
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that approximately 60,000 Illinois residents could benefit immediately from a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance.  Following President Bush’s signing of the authorizing legislation on June 30, 2008, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will administer the extension and will notify potentially eligible individuals by mail.  On July 1, the Governor signed the agreement to implement the federal extension, paving the way for the extension to take effect in Illinois today, July 6, 2008, the earliest possible date.
“In this economy, we need to make sure were are giving Illinoisans the support they need to put food on the table, pay their rising gas and utility bills and afford their other basic necessities. I am pleased that the U.S. Congress and President Bush have recognized the importance of providing job seekers with extended unemployment assistance,” Governor Blagojevich said.  “This extension of benefits will provide financial relief right now for people who need it most.  I thank our delegation for making sure we can help Illinoisans through this difficult time.”
“With the unemployment rate in Illinois jumping to 6.4 percent in May from 5.4 percent in April, which was the largest one-month increase in the state in more than 20 years, the time is right for Congress to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks.  That’s what Congress has just done,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).  “For displaced workers who are struggling to find new jobs in a sagging economy, this extension of benefits provides crucial financial support to help families cope with these tough times.”
“Illinois families are struggling with a stagnant economy, high gas and food prices, and this summer’s devastating floods,” said Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).  “This extension of unemployment insurance will provide some much-needed assistance, and I am pleased to stand with Senator Durbin to support this important solution.”
The UI extension provides for up to 13 weeks’ worth of additional, federally-funded unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted their rights to regular state unemployment benefits and are not eligible for other state or federal unemployment benefit programs.  Eligible individuals are Illinois claimants whose regular benefit claims expired on or after May 1, 2007, and who have been paid wages for the equivalent of 20 weeks of full time employment, based on a formula set forth in the law.
“The national economic slowdown is impacting our state’s economy – the unemployed are further challenged by the resulting, difficult job market.  In May, Illinois had the nation’s third-highest number of UI claims related to mass layoffs.  Our job growth, while promising, has not been enough to offset the number of our unemployed,” said IDES Director James P. Sledge.  “With the extension of benefits, eligible workers are being given necessary support while they continue their efforts to obtain employment.”
In general, the extra benefits will be subject to the same terms and conditions as the regular state benefits the claimant received.  For more information regarding Illinois’ UI benefits extension and to check on eligibility, call IDES at 312-793-5700 during regular office hours.


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