CHICAGO (CBS) — Approximately 3.3 million Americans are unsure of where their next paychecks are coming from, after a record number of unemployment filings in the U.S. last week. In Illinois alone, approximately 130,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in the last few weeks, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story.
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra has more on others who are out of work, but unable to file claims. Many have been trying, unsuccessfully, for more than a week, either by phone or online.
Those who have tried to call the Illinois Department of Employment Security often receive only an automated message, telling them “we are currently experiencing extremely high call volumes and are unable to answer your call at this time.”
Gov. JB Pritzker addressed the bottleneck at his daily coronavirus briefing. Both the state’s phones and unemployment website have been inundated with people trying to file claims, which surged by 1,000% last week.
“We’ve never seen this kind of application deluge that’s happening to the state. So we’re working every day to make sure that we’re being responsive,” Pritzker said. “We’ve asked people to stagger their application processes, their calls, as well as their online applications, because frankly the systems weren’t built, nor was the staffing built to withstand this kind of onslaught.”
In an effort to relieve the stress on the system, the state has established a schedule for people to file their unemployment claims online and over the phone:
Online Filing Schedule:
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
- Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
Call Center Filing Schedule:
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
- Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.
Note: The days in which you can file a claim may be different from the days in which you are asked to certify.