Chamber Members:

Job reports are out today for both the nation and our state. The review is below for both of them as is some information on the vaccine and test option.

In addition, as we had notified, the Business Interruption Grant closed on Tuesday at 5 PM. Knowing that a good number of our members had applied, we’re looking for feedback on your experience – good or bad – frustrating or not. Please let us know especially if you’ve had specific issues with the process and/or if you continue to wait on funds.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Latest on Aid Discussions
Top Senate Republicans indicated on Thursday that Congress is increasingly likely to need a days-long stopgap government funding bill as talks on a coronavirus package and mammoth funding deal drag out.

Congressional leaders and the Trump administration are working to clinch a massive package that would tie a roughly $900 billion coronavirus deal to a $1.4 trillion government funding package. They need to pass it by Friday night in order to prevent a shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that Congress would in all likelihood miss that deadline, saying on the Senate floor that a rare weekend session was “highly likely.”

“If we need to further extend the Friday funding deadline before final legislation can pass in both chambers, I hope we’ll extend it for a very, very short window of time,” McConnell said. Asked as he was heading into the chamber if Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution (CR), he added: “We may.”

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters that it was “more of a real possibility” that a temporary CR would be needed. “I would hope it wouldn’t be more than 24-48 hours. I really think this is coming to a close,” Thune told reporters.

Even if negotiators were able to get text of a deal on Thursday, the agreement would still need to be filed and passed by the House before it could be taken up by the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that negotiators were moving closer. “While many if not all of the difficult topics are behind us a few final issues must be hammered out. We’re very close to an agreement but the details really matter,” Schumer said.

Negotiators are still haggling over a push to include Federal Emergency Management Agency money, which Republicans worry would be a back door for providing more funds to state and local governments and a push to include more for entertainment venues, a priority for Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

And Thune indicated that they are still looking at how to structure a second round of stimulus checks, expected to be around $600, including potentially lowering the income cap from the $75,000 cap included in the March CARES Act.

“I know there’s been a lot of discussion about how to further restrict who gets it,” Thune said. He added that they were looking at “income, sort of, benchmarks and figuring out ways of I would say narrowing the number of people who would get the benefit of the check.”

Call to Action: Tell Congress to Pass Pandemic Relief Before the End of the Year
It is critical that Congress pass pandemic relief for small businesses and families immediately. Enacting a bill will require bipartisan compromise. Small businesses need relief as soon as possible to keep their businesses. While it is critical that lawmakers get the details right, time is of the essence. American families cannot wait until next year.

Tell Congress to work together and pass pandemic relief now:

U.S. Unemployment Claims Remain Elevated
The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits increased to a three-month high, another sign the economy is entering a winter slowdown as coronavirus cases rise and trigger new business restrictions.

Unemployment claims rose for the second straight week to 885,000 in the week ended Dec. 12, the Labor Department said Thursday. Last week marked the highest level for claims since September, when 893,000 workers applied for jobless benefits.

More broadly, claims are down sharply from a peak of nearly 7 million in March, but the four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly volatility, is increasing after trending downward since the spring. The weekly figures can be volatile around the holidays due to seasonal-adjustment issues.

“The next few months will be pretty rough for the labor market as you do see businesses having to contend with this latest wave of Covid cases,” Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said. “You are seeing those government restrictions coming into play again.”

Ms. House, and many other economists, project the labor market will cool until vaccines are widely distributed. More than 90% of economists in a recent Wall Street Journal survey said they expect the rollout of coronavirus vaccines will cause hiring to accelerate in the second quarter of next year.

Claims declined in many states last week. But they rose in some populous states, including Illinois and California, that have seen steep infection increases and new rounds of government restrictions.

Continuing claims, a proxy for the number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, fell to 5.5 million in the week ended Dec. 5, from 5.8 million a week earlier, on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Labor Department. Continuing claims declined throughout the summer and into the fall, a sign many laid-off workers returned to jobs.

Many individuals, though, are experiencing long spells of unemployment. About 4.8 million people who had exhausted state benefits were receiving aid through a federal extended-benefits program in the week ended Nov. 28, up from 4.5 million a week earlier. Others had run through benefits altogether, as job opportunities are limited in industries hit hard by the virus.

Statewide Unemployment Rate and Jobs Decline in November
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate fell -0.5 percentage point to 6.9 percent, while nonfarm payrolls lost -20,000 jobs in November, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The October monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report, from -1,100 to +7,000 jobs. The October unemployment rate was revised upward from the preliminary report, from 6.8 percent to 7.4 percent.

The November payroll jobs estimate and unemployment rate reflects activity for the week including the 12th. The BLS has published FAQs for the November payroll jobs and the unemployment rate.

The state’s unemployment rate was +0.2 percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for November, which was 6.7 percent, down -0.2 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was up +3.2 percentage points from a year ago when it was 3.7 percent.

In November, the three industry sectors with the largest over-the-month gains in employment were: Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+6,500), Professional and Business Services (+5,300) and Construction (+2,300). The industry sectors that reported the largest payroll declines were: Leisure and Hospitality (-27,400), Manufacturing (-2,900) and Educational and Health Services (-2,000).

November Retail Sales Fall Amide Virus Surge and Restrictions on Business
The holiday shopping season got off to a muted start as U.S. consumers reined in November spending amid a surge in coronavirus infections and new business restrictions in some states.

U.S. retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, restaurants and online, dropped a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in November from the prior month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. October sales were revised to a decline of 0.1% from an earlier estimate of a 0.3% increase. Sales were up by 4.1% in November when compared with the same month a year ago.

Restaurants, department stores and vehicle dealerships all reported sharp sales declines in November, with clothing and furniture purchases falling. Purchases of groceries and building materials increased, along with online sales.

The November and October drops marked the end of several months of growth in retail spending after sharp declines earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic triggered widespread business closures.

“Anywhere there’s crowds people stayed away from,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at consulting firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. “It underscores the difficulty here till the vaccine is widely distributed,” he said.

The retail sales report is the latest reading on the U.S. economy to suggest the recovery continues but is slowing after a burst of growth over the summer.

Covid Vaccine Shipments Slashed
Illinois will be receiving significantly fewer doses of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over the next two weeks, perhaps “about half” of what was expected, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said today. Whether the supply will catch up in weeks to come or when the glitch will be resolved is not certain.

The governor did not explain what the problem was that was delaying shipments.

Pritzker said federal officials have informed the state they’ll be distributing only about 4 million doses a week nationwide, half of what was previously suggested.

The governor did not give an exact figure as to what that means for Illinois, but he indicated the state likely will have its share cut proportionately.

Officials did not indicate whether the glitch will affect distribution of a vaccine from a second manufacturer, Moderna, that may receive final federal approval later this week.

Pritzker has been extremely critical of the federal government all year, and repeated that today, essentially saying that after numerous broken promises, he’ll believe vaccines arrive when and if they do.

Another At Home Test Ok’d by FDA
Abbott Laboratories won U.S. authorization for a rapid Covid-19 test that costs $25 and can be used at home, a new accessible option from the manufacturer after months of obstacles to screening access in the country.

The clearance from the Food and Drug Administration opens a new market for Abbott’s BinaxNOW, a single-use swab-collected test that produces results in 15 minutes. Until now, the test had been administered by health-care providers. Abbott is partnered with a service to remotely prescribe the screening.

The U.S. government purchased much of Abbott’s BinaxNOw supply after the test was first authorized by regulators in late August. The company plans to make 30 million tests available for at-home use in the first quarter of next year and 90 million more in the second quarter.

Patients can order the test through the Abbott-developed Navica smartphone app, where they will fill out a series of health questions. Abbott’s prescribing partner, eMed, ships the test and virtually supervises its administration. Results are then delivered through the Navica app.

Program Notices & Reminders
Workforce Center of Will County
The WCWC held a business services webinar with the Division of Rehabilitation Services talking about vocational rehab and home services programming last week. Attached to this email is a pdf document of that informative presentation. Also attached is a pdf document that reviews the Will County economy and labor force. You can also access them on our covid resource page.
Webinar Slides
Economic Report

ComEd Bill Assistance
Small-business customers can visit or call 1-877-4-COMED-1 (1-877-426-6331) to learn more or apply for the Small Business Assistance Program.

ComEd’s bill-assistance programs also include flexible payment options for residents, financial assistance for past-due balances and usage alerts for current bills. Any customer who is experiencing a hardship or difficulty with their electric bill should call ComEd immediately at 1-800-334-7661 (1-800-EDISON-1), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to learn more and enroll in a program.

Low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are still available to Illinois small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private nonprofit organizations.

The SBA has opened a Virtual Business Recovery Center to apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s secure website at Business owners and residents should contact the SBA Customer Service Representatives at
(800) 659-2955 for assistance in completing their applications. Requests for SBA disaster loan program information may be obtained by emailing

Tell Congress to Make PPP Loans Deductible – Call to Action
The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, or PPP, was passed in order to provide small businesses across the United States crucial relief during widespread government shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These loans can be forgivable when proceeds are used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. Congressional leaders intended for PPP funded expenses to be deductible like other business expenses.

Despite the intent of Congressional leaders, additional legislation is needed to make PPP funds used to pay business expenses deductible. The failure to allow these deductions will have a devastating impact on small businesses struggling to keep their doors open and retain their employees. You can contact your Senators and House Representative here:

SBDC at JJC Update
21 Topics in 21 Minutes for 2021 Growth
Date: Scheduled one-on-one session
In less than 30 minutes, the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Joliet Junior College will help you prioritize key 2021 business plans whether it is for your people, your product, your marketing, your sales, your money, or the impact of this crisis. In this short, one-on-one exercise, we will help you determine up to three of the biggest opportunities for growth in the year ahead. We will offer no-cost tools to develop your strategy for success in those areas. Email us at and we will send you a link for registration.

Stay well,

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors

Mike Paone
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct