CHICAGO — With unemployed Illinois residents set to receive an extra $300 weekly benefit for the next two months, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Monday that the state may join the list of others that may consider offering incentives for people to return to work.
But the governor insists he understands why many people haven’t gone back to work yet after either losing or leaving their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. The time has come, however, for the state to consider making “it easier” for people to rejoin the job force, Pritzker said.
Four states, including Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma, currently are offering people a return-to-work bonus that are given instead of the weekly benefit that many out-of-work residents have been receiving from the federal government as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.
While many Republican governors across the country have opted to cut off the federal benefit to unemployed workers across the country, Pritzker said Illinois won’t do that ahead of the Sept. 6 federal deadline. While that’s the case, Pritzker announced in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood Monday that he would consider offering up incentive for those who are currently out of work to return to the job.
“We’re looking at all of the options,” the governor said Monday.
In May, Illinois’ unemployment rate was 7.1 percent, which is just down only slightly from December 2020 when it was at 8 percent. NBC Chicago reported Monday that Pritzker has avoided eliminating the federal $300 weekly benefit or reinstating job search requirements for unemployed residents because he feels there are legitimate reasons people have for remaining on employment benefits due to coronavirus pandemic-related concerns.
The expanded unemployment program benefits more than 750,000 Illinoisans and 16 million workers nationwide, according to The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.
Illinois will see more than $4.5 billion in federal benefits, out of more than $100 billion in federal funds at stake nationwide, through the scheduled end of the supplemental unemployment insurance benefit programs.
“Those people who are complaining and saying that the $300 benefit is keeping people from going back to work are not taking into account the other reasons that people are choosing not to go back to work right now — who cannot get back to work,” Pritzker said earlier this month.
But now, as other states offer residents between a $1,000 and $2,000 bonus to return to full-time work, Pritzker said that other factors need to be considered as people contemplate returning to work. His announcement comes as a time when studies have shown many Americans have opted to remain out of work because they are making more money between their normal unemployment benefit and the $300 weekly bump from the federal government than they were at their jobs.
A “big consideration” for many people, Pritzker said Monday, is whether childcare would be included before they return to work.
“We’ve been working to expand that in order to help them get back to work,” the governor told reporters on Monday. “Listen, people who are not working not right now want to go back to work. So, we just need to make it easier for them to do so.”
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June 29, 2021 at 11:40AM