CHICAGO – Approximately 150,000 new Illinois residents will benefit immediately from the emergency federal extension of unemployment insurance, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced.
The legislation guarantees an additional seven weeks of unemployment insurance for unemployed Illinois workers actively seeking work. If specific benchmarks are reached, an additional 13 weeks of eligibility may be available.
“In this national economic crisis, we need to make every effort to help our residents move forward so they can buy food, heat their homes and afford their medicine,” Governor Blagojevich said. “This extension of unemployment insurance benefits will provide help right now for those who need it the most. My thanks go out to our President, President-elect, and our entire Illinois delegation for helping Illinoisans in this difficult time.”
On Nov. 21, President Bush signed into law the two-tiered emergency unemployment insurance extension. Rules and regulations on how to implement the law were provided late Tuesday, Nov. 26. The extension is the second of the year. In June, President Bush signed into law the original 13-week extension which took effect in July.
Since July, more than 100,000 Illinois residents sought the original emergency benefits. A total of 38,750 Illinois claimants already have exhausted those benefits, and as many as 55,000 could run out by March, 2009.
The extension was a direct result of the worsening national economic climate that continues to weigh heavily on the state’s economy. In October, the Illinois seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.3 percent. The Illinois economy recorded its fifth consecutive month of job loss (-11,700) for the first time in more than five years. The monthly job loss brings Illinois’ total job loss so far this year to -50,400.
Similarly, the national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October was 6.5 percent -- a 14-year high.
The national economy recorded its tenth consecutive month of job loss (-240,000). The monthly job loss brings the national total job loss so far this year to -1.2 million. The figures are according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
“Our current economic environment requires national attention, and I am glad that our federal officials agree,” said Maureen O’Donnell, director of the Illinois Department of Employment Insurance. “This extension is critical to helping Illinois families, just as a federal infrastructure investment is critical to addressing the nation’s faltering economy.”
In general, the emergency unemployment insurance extension will be subject to the same terms and conditions as regular state benefits. For more information or to file a claim, go to the IDES website at www.ides.state.il.us
The November extension provides up to seven weeks of additional, federally funded unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits and are not eligible for other state or federal unemployment benefit programs.
The seven-week extension goes into effect immediately. In Illinois that means if a person receives regular unemployment benefits right now, exhausts them, and still is out of work and actively seeking employment, they will be eligible for an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance (13 weeks from the July extension plus seven weeks from the first tier of the November extension). No action on their part is required.
At the end of those weeks, an additional 13 weeks of benefits may be available to some job seekers. This is the second tier of the November extension. Unemployed workers must meet the federal requirements of the original July extension and Illinois’ rolling monthly unemployment average must exceed six percent.
For people who received emergency unemployment benefits and exhausted those benefits, the Illinois Department of Employment Security is working to identify those individuals to determine their eligibility status based on this latest federal extension. They will be notified by mail and given further instructions. However, the federal extension authorizes benefits beginning Nov. 21. The extension is not retro-active to previous weeks if those benefits already were exhausted.
Actively seeking employment is a requirement to receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment insurance is a joint program between the state and federal government funded through employer taxes.