Another 2,800 people in the Bloomington-Normal area filed for jobless benefits for the first time in May, fewer than the two previous months but still worse than at the peak of the Great Recession, the state reported Thursday.
The 2,813 initial unemployment benefits claims in May, when combined with the 5,251 who filed in March and the 5,253 in April, means over 13,000 people lost a job in the Bloomington-Normal area during the pandemic. That has pushed the unemployment rate well into the double digits.
The new jobless claims were reported Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Other downstate metro areas also saw a slowdown in new jobless benefit-seekers, including Peoria, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, and Decatur.
Bloomington-Normal’s new jobless benefits claims in March, April, and May were all higher than at the peak of the Great Recession in December 2008, when 1,852 people filed. By comparison, just 527 people filed in May 2019.
Many businesses in Bloomington-Normal reopened (some partially) at the end of May, when Illinois entered Phase 3 of the governor’s reopening plan. More businesses would reopen if Illinois can enter Phase 4 at the end of June as planned, including interior spaces at restaurants and bars (with capacity limits) and movie theaters.
The Bloomington-Normal area’s jobless rate rose to 12.8% in April. The May jobless rate will not be released by IDES until June 25.
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