$300 Extra Unemployment Pay Will Not Be Cut In Illinois: Pritzker

ILLINOIS — Illinois will not stop paying an extra $300 a week to unemployed workers out of state COVID-19 relief funds.

Many Republican governors are ending the increased pay as a way to force people to return to work, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a press conference Tuesday that Illinoisans still have “legitimate” reasons to receive the extra funds.

Across the United States, restaurants and other industries are finding a worker shortage as they prepare to open to full capacity. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey announced a $2,000 bonus for workers who acquire and keep a full-time job for 10 weeks straight. Illinois has not announced any similar initiatives.

“I don’t want to pull the rug out from under people who have legitimate reasons for remaining on unemployment,” Pritzker said.

While Illinois is slowly phasing out the state’s ban on evictions, Pritzker said any move to stop the lost wages assistance would be done incrementally in order to ease residents back into normalcy.

There are 13 Republican governors who acted in the past week to end the extra unemployment pay. Their states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

Some businesses say the extra $300 is incentivizing workers to remain unemployed, but government surveys cite other factors at play, the Chicago Tribune reports. Some are worried about exposure to COVID-19, especially for children who are still unable to be vaccinated, and many parents still need to remain at home to watch kids who are attending online school.

Pritzker’s announcement came as the U.S. Labor Department said the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to 473,000 last week, a new pandemic low and the latest evidence of an economy on the rebound.

Eileen O’Groman, Patch Staff