CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) —  The state has processed more than 1 million unemployment claims since March 1. While unemployment is a nightmare for some, for others, it has benefits. 

Right now, one in five people in Illinois say they’re out of work. But despite those numbers, some say it’s been difficult getting people to re-enter the workforce. Melissa Wilhelm is the Marketing Manager with Manpower. They pair people up with jobs. She says finding people to fill positions is getting much harder.

“We do have work available, and we work with very good essential business clients that are really looking for people right now, and it is a challenge for us to put those people to work, more than I’ve seen in my life possibly,” explained Wilhelm. “We’re definitely seeing people refusing work right now, whether it’s a combination effect of a) fear, or b) that they are currently getting unemployment.”

That unemployment deal is a little sweeter right now than usual. While state unemployment usually pays 47 percent of someone’s weekly wages before being out of work, the $2 trillion federal stimulus bill passed in March is now adding $600 on top of that.

“It’s no secret that people are… they’re making more on unemployment… in some instances than some of these positions that we’re offering,” said Wilhelm. 

But it’s not all coming up roses. University of Illinois Assistant Professor Eliza Forsythe says health insurance premiums can take away from most of that difference.

“Until we have a control over the pandemic and until employers are hiring again and people feel safe visiting businesses again and spending money again, the whole economy is on hold, so I don’t see the extra pandemic money being a big issue in terms of people getting back to work. It’s really the pandemic itself.” said Forsythe. 

While jobs may not be as prevalent as before, Wilhelm recommends trying to get your foot in the door as soon as you can.

“People would be smart to go ahead and get a job now before all these folks are looking for work and clients will be that much pickier in the people that they’re choosing.”

Another concern for people returning to work is childcare. A lot of parents either rely on schools or daycares, and with both of those closed now (other than for essential workers for daycares), they may avoid getting a job.