CHICAGO (CBS) — We’re seeing parts of the economy recover months into the coronavirus pandemic, but this week’s numbers tell the other side of the story.

People are still losing their jobs, while others have already lost them and are still waiting for help.

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Just this past week, 26,262 new unemployment claims were filed in Illinois. For context, that is more than a 250 percent increase from this time last year.

It all makes one thing clear – the pandemic continues to threaten jobs more than five months in.

“That number should be way up above that,” said Keith Kelly. “I’m one of the many still trying to get in to file.”

Kelly started trying months ago, but had issues – which he said he has tried to resolve. But under the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s callback-only model for those looking to file for unemployment, he still has not received a call back.

“I’m still on that callback,” Kelly said, “and that was dated July 24.”

The longer he waits on a call, the longer he waits to file successfully.

“We don’t account for all the people who haven’t gotten through,” Kelly said.

Is that really the case? Molina asked the state.

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An IDES spokeswoman said the department can’t tell how many people started an application and never finished it. But she said people who’ve applied, but had issues or errors in their application, are counted in the numbers they report.

Kelly told us, counted or not, it has been months since he started the process and more than a month waiting on a call – and still nothing from the state.

“At some point you just say forget it, I’m not going to get through,” Kelly said.


The IDES spokeswoman could not comment on individual cases, but said they continue to work to help those having issues successfully filing for benefits.

The department did not comment on how long people like Keith Kelly have been waiting on a callback.

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.

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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.

Tara Molina