The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) today released new statewide data showing the department processed 74,476 new initial unemployment claims for the week ending May 2, and with upward revisions from weeks past, has now processed 1,006,925 initial unemployment claims from March 1 through May 2. This nearly 12 times the number of claims the department processed over the same period last year, when IDES processed just 78,100 initial unemployment claims.Statewide unemployment claims data, which reflects activity for the week prior, will be available on the IDES website every Thursday afternoon. Previous initial claims data has undergone an upward revision to properly account for a number of successfully processed claims. While the number of initial claims has slightly declined over the last two weeks, IDES may experience an increase when the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program becomes available on Monday, May 11, 2020. Workers who believe they may be eligible for new federal benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, must first apply for regular unemployment insurance before applying for benefits under PUA when a new application portal opens on Monday via the IDES website. Claimants who receive an eligibility determination of $0 can then appeal that decision by providing verification of wages earned or they can submit a claim for PUA benefits. Claimants who have already applied for and been denied regular unemployment benefits can submit a claim through the new PUA portal when it opens. Receiving a denial for regular unemployment benefits is a mandatory first step in determining eligibility for PUA. PUA provides 100% federally-funded unemployment benefits for individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related reasons and are not eligible for the state’s regular unemployment insurance program, the extended benefit (EB) program under Illinois law, or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), including independent contractors and sole-proprietors. Up to 39 weeks’ worth of benefits are potentially available under the program for COVID-19-related unemployment claims. IDES is contracting with Deloitte to implement and maintain the web-based PUA program. While a program of this magnitude would normally take up to a year to design and implement, the department worked swiftly to get the program up and running within 4 weeks.PUA claims will be backdated to the individuals’ first week of unemployment, but no earlier than February 2, 2020, and will continue for as long as the individual remains unemployed as a result of COVID-19, but no later than the week ending December 26, 2020. The program is similar to the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program which provides unemployment benefits in response to local disasters.