News & Politics

Unemployment Offices in IL Are a Mess and Gov. Pritzker is to Blame

Unemployment Offices in IL Are a Mess and Gov. Pritzker is to Blame
J. B. Pritzker

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is on the hot seat. It’s not because of his draconian lockdown policies and his police state enforcement of them. The unemployment claims system in Illinois is a total disaster as tens of thousands of people are calling their local claims office every day — some call hundreds of times — and no one is home on the other end.

The snafus have led one state legislator to initiate a recall effort against the governor.


An influx of jobless claims prompted by the closing of nonessential businesses because of the spread of the coronavirus has overwhelmed the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Rep. Allen Skillicorn of East Dundee says the Democratic governor has had ample time to the agency’s website.

Asserting “the incompetence cannot continue.” Skillicorn criticized Pritzker for a “glitch” that briefly made private information of some applicants public. He also criticized the governor for the long wait times and confusion surrounding IDES and unemployment qualifications.

Other states hard hit by coronavirus unemployment have problems. But Illinois difficulties are epic.

Illinois Policy:

The state spent $22 million on a no-bid contract for the unemployment claims system and a new call center. The system went live May 11, allowing gig workers and independent contractors to finally apply for benefits. But many were met with major technical issues and the new system publicly exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 32,500 out-of-work Illinoisans.

Skillicorn’s press release also stated that between March 2 through April 28, daily calls to the unemployment assistance hotline rose “from an average of 6,500 for the first 10 days to almost 370,000 with the number of agents available to answer those calls increasing from a low of 88 to a high of 122.” With 1.1 million Illinoisans idled by the pandemic since mid-March, many are still unable to receive critical benefits or adequate assistance in navigating the system.

A “no bid” contract for a call center is Illinois-speak for “My best friend builds call centers, governor. How about you scratch my back and I scratch yours”?

The effort to recall Pritzer is not serious but it points to the anger and unhappiness of people who are desperate for help but can’t get it.

Skillicorn insists he would rather Pritzker finish out his term than be booted from office.

“Frankly I just hope the governor fixes the unemployment system, so people can get their unemployment and we should move on from this,” the state representative said. “I mean, I would much prefer that.”

Skillicorn also denied the effort to recall Pritzker was a partisan one. He asserted he would get the necessary votes from the legislature to get the recall effort on the ballot. Skillicorn said Republican House members Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, Blaine Wilhour of Beecher City and Darren Bailey of Xenia have agreed to sign the ballot petition.

Recall that the state of Illinois is thinking of asking the federal government for $41 billion to bail it out of its budget shortfall because of the lockdown and its pension crisis, which is because the state is incredibly corrupt. That the state can’t service its own unemployed should not give Congress confidence that the bailout money would be well spent.

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