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State releases $16.6 million in job-training funds

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced the release of $16.6 million in federal funding to expand job opportunities for Illinoisans out of work due to COVID-19.

The announcement came as both new unemployment claims and continued claims decreased in the state from a week prior, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

IDES reported there were 25,478 new unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 5, which was a decrease of 716 from the week prior. The number of continued claims dropped by 6,215, according to IDES, to 552,436 for the week. Despite the decrease, the new claims are still more than three times the 7,180 recorded over the same time period last year.

The decrease came as the number of new claims remained level at 884,000 nationally and the number of ongoing claims increased by 93,000 to 13.39 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Pritzker was in Rockford Thursday to announce two new grants through the U.S. Department of Labor that will aim to “place, train and hire nearly 1,300 residents for an array of jobs related to the ongoing pandemic response.”

The funding includes two separate grants each worth $8.3 million, one from the federal Disaster Recovery Grant Program and one from the Employment Recovery Grant program, both of which are part of the National Dislocated Worker Program.

The jobs funded through the programs include temporary recovery-related jobs such as contact tracers, COVID-19 protocol workers, building sanitization workers, temperature screeners and food preparation and distribution workers, according to the governor’s office.

Funding will be distributed to 12 Local Workforce Innovation Areas across Illinois representing employers, local government, community colleges and community-based organizations which partner with state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Training and hiring for new workforce programs are expected to begin this fall, and local agencies will prioritize applicants who have lost work during the COVID-19 crisis.

This story is by Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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