Report looks at how states, including Illinois, handled pandemic economy

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(The Center Square) – An analysis of how states handled the balance of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy looks unfavorably on Illinois.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, reviewed unemployment rates in all states and how governors protected their economies. ALEC Chief Economist Jonathan Williams said J.B. Pritzker hasn’t handled the response well.

“For not only the COVID handling, but a lot of the anti-free market policies that unfortunately Illinois is well known for,” Williams said.

The report states by September, lockdowns carried out by governors led to over 20 million Americans entering unemployment status, countless businesses across all 50 states declaring bankruptcy, and roughly $4 trillion in increased spending from all levels of government. The estimates reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis show an annualized decline in GDP of nearly 32% in the second quarter of 2020.

Pritzker, who has once again placed restrictions on bars and restaurants, blamed Illinois’ neighbors for the spike in coronavirus cases and the closure of businesses.

“The massive surge of cases in our neighboring states will continue to have a spillover effect,” he said. “There is no easy fix for the effects of this virus on our economy and on our public health.”

From the outset of the pandemic, governors have taken a lead role in regulating commerce and the severity of “stay-at-home” order enforcement. Responses from governors have varied. Arkansas and Nebraska never issued strict stay-at-home orders. Other, such as California and New Jersey, established penalties and fines for failure to obey state mandates.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimated 70,659 new unemployment claims were filed during the week of Nov. 2 in Illinois. There were 73,515 new unemployment claims filed during the week of Oct. 26 in Illinois, the second-largest weekly increase in the nation, according to the latest report released on Thursday.

A study by the personal finance website WalletHub found Illinois had the second slowest recovery for weekly unemployment claims in the country.

“The governors that were most successful resisted the over-the-top lockdown urges that now months in we realize didn’t really make as big as a difference as everyone thought they would,” Williams said.

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