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Illinois fifth worst in U.S. in June unemployment

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(The Center Square) – Illinois unemployment numbers for June were the fifth worst in the nation. The latest monthly data follows an Illinois Auditor General report showing more than $5.2 billion in unemployment benefits were overpaid during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data from the Illinois Policy Institute show the state lost 9,500 jobs in June.

The industries hit the hardest in Illinois during June were the professional and business services sector, which lost 5,400 jobs. The manufacturing industry lost 2,100 jobs, and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector lost 2,000 jobs in the month.

Chris Davis of the National Federation of Independent Businesses says small businesses in Illinois are also struggling to find qualified workers.

“In July, 61% of business owners either hired or are trying to hire, which is up from previous months,” Davis said. “Of those trying to hire, 92% of business owners report fewer or no qualified applicants.”

In addition, a report released in July examines the Illinois Department of Employment Security from 2020 through 2022 and highlights the agency’s handling of the state’s unemployment funds.

On Tuesday, Pritzker discussed the fraudulent benefit payments, downplaying the seriousness of Illinois having such a significant amount of lost funds.

“Across the entire United States, there were hundreds of billions of dollars that were lost. In Illinois, it was $3 billion in the federal program and $2 billion in the regular UI program,” Pritzker said. “No one tried to do that.”

Pritzker said Illinois did “better” than other states as well.

“In fact, California, just to give you an example, $20 billion of regular UI fraud, we had two [billion] here. New York $8 billion, we had two here,” Pritzker said. “Even on a population base, we did better.”

In March, Pritzker said Illinois is the best spot in the nation to do business.

According to the IPI numbers, Illinois’ June unemployment rate of 4% was the fifth-worst in the nation, with 45 other states having rates below 4%.

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