We hope you are ready to enjoy your weekend. Before so, here is a little information regarding Illinois unemployment numbers, utility bill relief, and additional follow-up info from the SBA. Don’t forget about the DCEO opening on Monday for grant opportunities. We will release application info once we find out.
Illinois Unemployment Report
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that the unemployment rate fell -2.0 percentage points to 15.2 percent in May, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The April unemployment rate was also revised from the preliminary report, from 16.4 percent to 17.2 percent, because of large monthly revisions to unemployed and employed in April.
The May payroll jobs estimate, and unemployment rate, reflects activity for the week including the 12th. The state’s unemployment rate was +1.9 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May, which was 13.3 percent, down -1.4 percentage points from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was up +11.1 percentage points from a year ago when it was 4.1 percent.
The three-month average Illinois payroll employment estimate was down -245,800 jobs during the March to May three-month period, compared to the February to April three-month period. The largest average declines were found in Leisure and Hospitality (-95,700), Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-33,600) and Educational and Health Services (-30,000).
Utility Bill Relief
Illinois residents struggling to pay their electric, gas and water bills amid job losses and other economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic received additional relief Thursday from the state’s top utility regulator.
The Illinois Commerce Commission unanimously approved an agreement with Commonwealth Edison, Peoples Gas, Nicor and the state’s other large utility companies that extends a moratorium on service disconnections and a suspension of late payments first put in place in March in response to the pandemic.
Here is information shared by ComEd:
To help families and communities recover from the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, ComEd, the staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and a broad group of stakeholders worked to develop a comprehensive customer support package. In approving the parties’ proposed package today, the ICC adopts an approach that reflects unprecedented collaboration between stakeholders and the entire utility sector.
This support extends beyond the ICC’s March 18, 2020 Emergency Interim Order to include the suspension of disconnections and the waiver of new late fees until either the state moves to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan or Aug. 1, 2020, whichever comes first. The package also provides bill assistance for eligible low-income customers, more flexible payment options for customers and the waiver of certain deposits and fees for an extended period of time.
Customers who are challenged in paying their outstanding balances and electric bills should contact ComEd’s customer care team as soon as possible at 800-334-7661, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to take advantage of new and existing assistance options. More information is also available at ComEd.com/CARE.
This comprehensive relief package was made possible by the collaboration of a variety of key stakeholders, including the Staff of the ICC, large Illinois utility companies and the Joint Consumer Parties, which include the Illinois Attorney General, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), the City of Chicago, Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services and Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI).
Details of ComEd’s customer support package include:
- Extending the Suspension of Disconnections. ComEd will provide continued relief from service disconnections by extending its suspension on disconnecting customers until either the state moves to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan or Aug. 1, 2020, whichever comes first. Residential and small business customers will have an additional 30-day grace period, during which time ComEd will not disconnect service for nonpayment to help customers get back on their feet. This builds off previous action taken by ComEd to suspend service disconnections; in March, ComEd was one of the first companies in the nation to voluntarily suspend service disconnections and waive new late payment charges.
- Bill Assistance for Eligible Low-Income Customers. To help customers who are past due on their ComEd accounts, ComEd will provide additional bill assistance for eligible, low-income households earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
- More Flexible Payment Arrangements. Under the comprehensive support package, customers will have additional flexible payment options, including longer payment plans in which payments will be spread out over up to 18 months for residential customers, or 24 months for low-income customers and customers experiencing financial hardship.
- Extended Fee Relief. ComEd will continue to waive reconnection fees for those eligible residential customers disconnected prior to March 18, 2020 and will waive new residential deposit requirements for an extended period of time.
These comprehensive customer assistance programs supplement the extensive relief that ComEd already offers its customers in need, including:
- Flexible Payment Options. These include budget billing, which averages payments over a 12-month period to help customers manage their monthly energy bills.
- CARE Financial Assistance Grants. For customers who struggle to cover energy expenses, ComEd offers a wide range of financial assistance program.
- Supplemental Arrearage Assistance. Recognizing that customers facing economic hardship may be challenged to quickly pay off debt accrued during a period of nonpayment, ComEd also offers arrearage assistance through its Supplemental Arrearage Protection Program (SARP).
A Notice from PACE on Fare Collections
As we continue with the phased and cautious reopening of our region, we recognize our responsibility to operate safely, serve a critical public need, and communicate transparently.
Our priority remains the safety of our passengers and personnel. Pace is a vital service that provides crucial transportation access for the communities we serve, including transportation for many essential workers traveling to and from their places of employment. We take that responsibility seriously and will continue do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Please note that, effective 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 22, we will end our temporary suspension of fare collection and return to front door boarding only. Riders will be required to pay fares on all Pace bus routes, On Demand services, Dial-a-Rides, and ADA Paratransit services. To support efforts to continue to schedule single-passenger ADA Paratransit trips as ridership allows, we will waive fares on City of Chicago Taxi Access Program (TAP) trips until further notice.
All service suspensions remain in effect. We will monitor demand and be prepared to reintroduce services as resources allow and people return to work and regular activities.
We are truly all in this together. Please help us spread the word about what we’re doing to keep everyone safe and what passengers can do to help.
We will continue to:
- Prioritize the safety of our passengers and personnel
- Deep clean and sanitize vehicles daily
- Clean high touch surfaces throughout the day
- Provide operators with PPE
- Limit seating where possible to encourage social distancing
- Keep indoor spaces closed
- Limit on board passengers and add extra vehicles to routes as we are able
- Temporarily waive TAP fares
Ready to Apply for PPP Loan Forgiveness?
If you’ve already received the SBA’s PPP loan, or you just want to know more about the forgiveness process, the SBA and Treasury have released new, more borrower-friendly PPP forms including:
In addition to revising the full forgiveness application, SBA also published an EZ version that applies to some borrowers.
If you haven’t yet applied for an SBA PPP loan, more than $100 billion is still available, but the deadline is approaching. Lenders must submit loan applications to the SBA by June 30.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application portal has reopened to all small businesses
- The SBA is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.
- These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. The first payment is deferred for one year.
- In addition, small businesses and non-profits may request, as part of their loan application, an EIDL Advance of up to $10,000. This advance will not have to be repaid, and small businesses may receive an advance even if they are not approved for a loan.
- EIDL applications that have already been submitted continue to be processed.
You can apply for the EIDL funds here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Finally, we would like to extend an invitation to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation next week as they hold a conference with Bill and Melinda Gates as they talk about preparing to restart the economy and get millions back to work.
Special Edition of Path Forward with Bill and Melinda Gates
All are invited to this conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
When: Wednesday, June 23 at 11 AM
Who: Next week’s special edition of Path Forward with Bill and Melinda Gates will focus on the importance of a coordinated international response to the pandemic, the lasting changes we might see coming out of the crisis, how to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccines, and much more.
Sign Me Up! Click here to register for the special edition Path Forward event with Bill and Melinda Gates.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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