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Illinois Unemployment Numbers Higher Than Expected; 'We Are Opening More Slowly Than Other States'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A bit of a surprise in the unemployment numbers out Thursday.

Even though businesses are reopening, the job losses won't stop. The numbers are slightly higher than expected.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole is Working for Chicago and he's digging into why the uptick.

To be clear, the pace of those filing for unemployment had slowed significantly, but the fact there was this uptick while states are opening up means the economy could be stuck in a long lingering recession.

Look around and you'll see Illinois, like many states, is opening up with workers called back to restaurants, shops and offices.

National numbers show millions of people are still out of work, and more troubling,  more people than expected filed for unemployment. Many face complications. People like Edgebrook's Jimmie Barreto.

"I've been unemployed since March 27," Barreto said. "I have not received a dime of that unemployment that I filed back on the 27th."

First-time jobless claims totaled 1.5 million last week. National surveys expected that number to be closer to 1.3 million.

Phillip Braun is a professor of finance at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. He said he is nervous looking at those numbers.

"So far, the level of the economy opening up hasn't been sufficient to bring us out of a recession," Braun said.

In just released numbers, Illinois unemployment rate fell by 2 percentage points to 15.2% in May. That was still higher than the national average of 13.3%.

"I think because we are opening more slowly than other states around the country. An appropriate slow rate," Braun said.

Since the pandemic began, nearly 1.5 million individuals have filed for unemployment in Illinois. That's about 23% of the state's workforce. More than 44,000 new claims were filed in Illinois last week, about even with the previous week, as more businesses started to open.

Numbers which could indicate a long slow road out of recession.

"It's really hard to put your finger on why jobless claims are still so high and not coming down," Braun wondered.

This is the 13th week in a row that unemployment claims have topped one million.


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