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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2009

Governor Quinn Calls on Congress to Enact Legislation to Increase Unemployment Benefits
Joins 21 Governors to Request Extension of Critical Provisions

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CHICAGO – September 16, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn calls on Congress to quickly enact legislation that will extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and those who are about to exhaust their benefits. Governor Quinn, along with 21 other governors, sent a letter to Congress outlining their call to action.

“Thousands of our neighbors and friends who want to work are faced with losing their unemployment insurance because they have not been able to find a job,” Governor Quinn said. “Congress needs to understand that America’s labor force needs its help.”

In the letter, the governors strongly urged immediate action to extend the vital unemployment insurance provisions contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as an extension of additional emergency unemployment compensation benefits for all states to help the long-term unemployed weather this economic storm. (view letter)

Unless Congress acts, it is expected that more than 400,000 workers nationwide will exhaust their federal extended benefits by September with exhaustion rates expected to increase over the coming months.

Several unemployment insurance programs are currently active. However, the length of those programs has caused an estimated 13,000 working Illinois families to exhaust their benefits. An additional 40,000 Illinoisans could be without financial assistance if no federal action is taken. In addition, funding for other programs is scheduled to terminate at the end of the year.

Currently, Illinois provides up to 79 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. Of that, 26 weeks is state-supported; 33 weeks is federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation and 20 weeks is federally funded Extended Benefits. An additional $25 stipend is added to unemployment insurance payments.

Illinois continues to help the long-term unemployed obtain meaningful employment and prepare for the possibility that their benefits might exhaust. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity offers services including job training, resume review and skills assessment. The Illinois Department of Employment Security informs workers how long a benefit period typically lasts and informs them when their benefits are about to expire. The state’s social services also provide information and access to basic needs.

An estimated 450,000 Illinois workers currently collect unemployment insurance benefits. The Illinois unemployment rate in July was 10.4 percent, the highest since October 1983. Nationally, the rate was 9.3 percent, which also rivals rates set 25 years ago.

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