New jobless claims filed in Illinois last week totalled 72,993. That’s a slight decline from the 74,476 new claims filed the previous week and the lowest number of new claims filed since the COVID-19 induced economic shutdown began in late March.

More than 756,000 Illinois residents are now listed as collecting unemployment benefits.

Jobless figures for April with detail for Evanston aren’t scheduled to be released until the end of this month. For March Evanston’s jobless rate was 3.9% up from 2.5% in February.

Nationally the jobless rate stood at 15.7 percent for the week ending May 2, and nearly three million more people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits during the week ending May 9.

Northwestern University, Evanston’s largest employer, announced plans this week to furlough 250 workers, likely through the end of the summer.

It’s still unclear whether the Chicago region will meet criteria needed to move into the next phase of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan at the end of this month and reopen more businesses shuttered in efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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