Nearly 300,000 Illinoisans file for unemployment over the last two weeks

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — In Illinois, the Department of Employment Security recorded nearly 300,000 unemployment claims have been filed in the last two weeks.

People trying to file for unemployment say long wait times, busy dial tones, and not enough representatives to handle the number of calls is what they experience when they try to file for unemployment.

Many of those who’ve lost their jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak have been directed to the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s website.

The $2 trillion federal stimulus package includes giving unemployment recipients $600 a week in addition to their regular unemployment benefits.

But many central Illinoisans say they haven’t even been able to file yet, although they have tried to file daily.

“I called 20-30 times a day. You go through 20 minutes of recordings to get to the end to say they have a high call volume and to call back. 20-30 times a day, for probably 2 weeks now,” said Misty McKnight who was laid off from Kemp 208 in Morton.

“It’s more scary to know this money is feeding your family and the lack of jobs. That’s really the fear, not being able to pay your bills and feed your family,” said

Cindy Neal owns Express Employment Professionals, helping those who have lost their jobs, find jobs in essential businesses.

“We are considered essential to help companies get what they need. We are here to help businesses get those workers too, we have plenty of people ready to go,” Neal said.

Neal says her company has received a 50% increase in call volume during the COVID-19 outbreak, helping both people who were laid off, but also working hand in hand with ‘essential businesses’ to find healthy workers.

“People looking for work that were displaced, because of the non-essential businesses under the ‘Shelter At Home’ order. We’ve had employees in essential businesses, we’ve been fortunate there that a lot of our employees are staying at their current job assignments,” Neal said.

The IDES has changed the days people can call to file unemployment.

If your last name begins with the letters A-M, you can file your claims Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.

If your last name begins with N-Z, you file on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Anyone can apply on Saturdays.

You can call Express Employment Professionals at (309) 682-2888.

You can file for unemployment here.

If you have an account already, you can put in your username/password here.

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