Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Illinois is still not back to work a month after federal unemployment benefits expire

By Kyle Kimball
The Center Square

CHICAGO — Nearly a month after the expiration of extended federal unemployment benefits, Illinois is still not close to being fully back to work.

Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, a disconnect between policymakers and pandemic management may be a reason why.

“Policymakers – both in Illinois and nationally – have not evolved enough in their thinking to really address these emerging issues in recognizing the fact that they’re likely to be with us for years,” he said.

Ultimately, it’s the difference between confronting the economic realities of a pandemic versus an endemic.

All this in the run-up to the all-important holiday shopping season, where there’s a trifecta of concern: a workforce scarcity, inflation fears, and ongoing supply-chain issues.

Concerning the latter, Maisch said, “If you have something you have to buy for your family or a loved one for Christmas, and if you haven’t ordered it already, get on the internet, go to the store, order it now.”

As to what employers are doing to incentivize potential hires, “They’re instituting hiring bonuses or saying, if you stay with me for a while, we’re going to give you another bonus in six months,” Maisch said. “But even that has its problems because employees who have been there two or three years are then saying, ‘Why are the newbies getting these bonuses?’. So, it’s truly difficult for employers to navigate this current labor climate.”

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