CHICAGO – November 6, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today hailed U.S. Congressional action to extend unemployment insurance benefits an additional 20 weeks for thousands of Illinois workers who otherwise would have lost that financial support. President Obama signed the legislation into law today.
“Thousands of Illinois families will be able to use this modest benefit payment to support their families and their local business community,” said Governor Quinn. “I salute President Obama and Congress for showing leadership and compassion during this economic crisis.”
Without the extension, 40,000 Illinois workers would have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits. Nationally, the number is estimated at exceed 1 million. Approximately 420,000 people in Illinois collect unemployment insurance.
The 20 additional weeks will supplement the 26 weeks available in Illinois that is funded through business contributions. Previous Congressional action authorized 53 weeks of payments funded primarily by the federal government.
“As with past extensions, we will implement this program in such a way that claimants need not contact their local office,” said Maureen O’Donnell, director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security. “We will proactively notify our customers should there be a question about their eligibility.”
Unemployment insurance was never intended to replace an individual’s income. It always was intended to provide financial assistance to an individual, and as a result, businesses that the individual patronizes, during challenging economic conditions. An average Illinois weekly benefit payment is $325 a week. The maximum weekly payment for a family with dependent children is $534.
Since February, Illinois has leveraged nearly $1.8 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment insurance benefits. The IDES supports economic stability by administering unemployment benefits, collecting business contributions to fund those benefits, connecting employers with qualified job seekers, and providing economic information to assist career planning and economic development.
The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate for October is 10.2 percent. The October rate for Illinois is scheduled to be reported Nov. 19. Unemployment rates have not been this high since 1983.