NORTH AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — The nation’s latest unemployment numbers come out each Thursday morning.
In Illinois alone, more than 200,000 unique claims are coming in every week.
CBS 2 is Working for Chicago as we continue to hear that many people are waiting to receive benefits they are owed.
Some are struggling to get simple answers from the state. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory showed us that reality Thursday.
Gail Salter serves as the welcome crew at the Illinois WorkNet Center in North Aurora, asking people if they’re having problems with their unemployment benefits as they pull up.
But the Illinois Department of Employment Security is not paying Salter. She doesn’t even work for the IDES – in fact, she actually is not working at all.
“I called you people because I said if this gets on the news, maybe they’ll do something,” Salter said.
The former accountant met with CBS 2 to share her twisted tale of how she finally got a hold of someone from IDES.
Offices are closed to the public, and Salter said the state website kept freezing.
“I ended up just starting to call any random unemployment office, trying various combinations of prompts,” Salter said to one man who came to the North Aurora WorkNet Center office.
But Salter did find a solution. She left her contact information through a mail slot at the door.
In just 30 minutes, Salter shared her secrets with at least five other people who showed up to speak with a state employee in person after having trouble doing so other ways.
“‘You need to call 1 (800), blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’ – and I call and no answer the phone,” said Mayra Hernandez.
Salter had left her note in a mail slot at the front of the shuttered WorkNet office.
“Now they’ve got it blocked off so people can’t even do that,” she said.
But one can add resourcefulness to both Salter and Hernandez’s résumés. They were able to shove Hernandez’s letter under the door.
“I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated. I’m so sad,” Hernandez said. I’m very angry and I need the money.”
Meanwhile, Salter acknowledged that IDES employees might be doing their best.
“When they called me back, they were helpful and nice,” she told one man pulling up.
But she also expressed confusion at why in-person interaction with IDES employees isn’t clear yet with Illinois entering Phase 4 of reopening..
“There’s restaurants opened and hair dressing salons opened, but this still isn’t?” Salter said.
We’ve tried for weeks to get a concrete date on reopening for IDES offices. The answer is that a plan is still being developed because of worries about COVID-19 and crowd control.
CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.
We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.