Unemployment skyrockets in county

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One of the most devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is the toll it is taking on the workforce, with millions of Americans filing claims for unemployment insurance over the last several weeks.

Monroe County is no exception to that, according to data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. 

In March, which is the most recent available data at a county level, 764 people in Monroe County filed their initial unemployment insurance claims.

In March 2019, 71 Monroe County residents filed unemployment claims. That is a 976 percent increase from last year.

Similarly, 75 people in the county filed initial claims in February, meaning there was a 918 percent increase in claims in one month. 

“This is a very challenging time for both individuals and businesses,” Monroe County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Edie Koch said. “The impact of COVID-19 has no boundaries, and social distancing requirements have caused many businesses to close or cut back operations. Unfortunately, there is a domino effect that can come into play when unemployment rises, as it has in Monroe County and all over the country. Increased unemployment can lead to a drop in consumer spending, slowing growth even further, which can, in turn force businesses to lay off more workers. Hopefully, as the economy slowly reopens, that trend can reverse itself.”

The county’s numbers are consistent with national, state and regional statistics.

In the four weeks since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, 22 million people have filed unemployment claims across America.

That includes 634,000 people who have filed for unemployment benefits in Illinois. 

In the second week of April alone, the IDES reported 141,160 more people filed for unemployment. While that was a decrease of 30 percent from the previous week, it was up 1,727 percent from the number of claims at that time in 2019. 

Monroe County’s neighbors are also seeing astronomical unemployment numbers. 

St. Clair County had 6,097 initial unemployment claims in March, up from 678 in March 2019 and 689 in February. That translates to a 799 percent increase and 785 percent increase, respectively. 

Randolph County had slightly more unemployment claims than here in March, with 920 initial claims filed. At the same time last year, it had 94 claims. It had 82 claims in February. That means it experienced an 879 percent increase from last March and a 1,021 percent increase from February to March of 2020. 

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