By GREG BISHOP
The Center Square
Agroup of Illinois employer associations is urging the governor to end enhanced unemployment benefits and reinstate the work-seeking requirements to ensure the state’s economic recovery isn’t further delayed.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a combination of federal and state policies have assisted workers with enhanced and extended unemployment insurance. The sweetened benefits continued, even as states were lifting economic restrictions. Around half the states in the nation have ended the enhanced benefits.
“Illinois employers of all types and sizes are struggling to attract needed employees resulting in reduced hours and lost sales,” the group featuring manufacturing, construction, and retail associations said in a letter. “Those lost sales directly impact the budgets of the state and units of local government. Before we lose any more economic ground, now is the time to reinstate normal unemployment insurance operations, including work search requirements, and benefit levels.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said for months he’s not willing to end the enhanced unemployment benefits because he doesn’t want to “pull the rug” from underneath anyone. He also said there were concerns about child care.
Illinois Retail Merchants Association CEO Rob Karr said the governor addressed that a few weeks ago when he expanded child care subsidy eligibility. IRMA is part of a group of more than 20 associations that sent the governor a letter Tuesday, July 13, asking him to end the enhanced unemployment benefits of $300 a week and reinstate requirements for those getting the benefits to look for work.
“The faster that everyone’s back in the workforce, the faster Illinois recovers and hopefully gets back to pre-pandemic performance,” Karr said in an interview.
Karr noted Illinois lagged the nation in economic recovery following the Great Recession that ended in 2009.