Just last month, we highlighted
Illinois' unemployment insurance fund as a bright spot in the state's
sea of fiscal darkness. When ProPublica teamed up with American Public
Media's Marketplace to study the nation's vast and decentralized unemployment insurance system, they ...
Just last month, we highlighted Illinois' unemployment insurance fund as a bright spot in the state's sea of fiscal darkness. When ProPublica teamed up with American Public Media's Marketplace to study the nation's vast and decentralized unemployment insurance system, they found that Illinois had $500 million dollars in the bank, the 14th highest total in the nation. Illinois had not been forced to borrow any money to keep the fund solvent either, unlike other large states. To be sure, there were problems in the system, particularly that the jobless were routinely denied benefits by employers. But overall, the fund was healthy.
Not anymore. In just the past few months, increased demand has drained the fund, forcing the state to seek federal assistance to pay out benefits. Crain's has the scoop:
The state has drawn about $9 million from a federal credit line to help replenish its unemployment insurance fund and pay out close to $100 million in unemployment claims. The fund had dwindled to about $81.8 million as of July 5 from $1.45 billion at the start of 2009.
“There was no interruption of benefits. The borrowing is a result of the national economic challenge,” says a spokesman for the State of Illinois Department of Employment Security.
The loan was small because the state is still expecting a $200 million federal windfall as a result of the unemployment benefits extension law Gov. Quinn signed two weeks ago. But it came at a bad time. Just this morning, the Illinois Department of Employment Security released the state's June unemployment figures. While the increase wasn't as sharp as in previous months, the state is still shedding jobs, jumping to 10.3 percent from 10.1 percent last month:
As we noted yesterday, these unemployment numbers only tell part of the story, as they do not take into account part-timers who want full-time jobs or the jobless who want work but are not actively seeking employment.
Furthermore, the economy is ravaging certain communities more starkly than others. According to a study released yesterday by the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for African-Americans (13.5 percent) and Latinos (9.6 percent) in Illinois was decidedly higher than that of whites (7.5 percent) in the first quarter of 2009. In an interview with Chicago Public Radio, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability's Ralph Martire connects the disparity with the state's education funding system:
MARTIRE: So basically when these children come out of their under-funded schools, they are less competitive than their white peers in a global economy
Read the preceding post for more on that enduring problem.