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Marry Hammell, a staffer from Alinea restaurant, places carryout orders in the trunk of a car for a customer in Chicago, Saturday, June 20, 2020. Due to the coronavirus Alinea shifted to carryout on March 17. Since then, it has served 82,000 meals, said Nick Kokonas, the restaurant's co-owner.

(The Center Square) – An economic report from Yelp paints a dire picture for businesses in Illinois and the rest of the country.

More than 160,000 businesses listed on Yelp’s online directory have indicated they have closed since the pandemic began. In monitoring closed businesses, Yelp also takes into account the permanent closures. That number has steadily increased throughout the past 6 months, now reaching nearly 100,000, representing 60% of closed businesses don’t plan to reopen.

Restaurants account for the greatest number of permanent closures among Yelp-listed businesses. Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said a fifth of all dining establishments in the state are expected to close, eliminating a lot of jobs.

“We started with 594,000 people working in the food service restaurant industry, the largest private-sector employer here in the state of Illinois, and if we lose 20% of restaurants, we could definitely lose 20% of jobs which would be over 120,000 jobs,” said Toia.

Yelp noted that businesses already well suited for takeout service, such as pizza places, fast food and delis, are treading water better than other restaurants. The highest closures include breakfast places, sandwich shops and Mexican restaurants.

Norma Lansing, president of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, said her area has fared okay with business closings with just a few, but one local business recently closed up shop because of the pandemic has changed the way we do things.

“Most recent ones like the Family Video store and they specifically said it was pandemic related,” Lansing said. “People are now using streaming services and people have not been able to get out and about.”

Even as the pandemic spread nationally, geographically Yelp data shows business closures vary across the country. Bigger states and metros with higher rents for small businesses over the past six months have felt a greater toll. So to have businesses more closely linked to physical locations that need crowds of consumes to turn a profit.

Hawaii, California, and Nevada have the highest rate of total closures, while West Virginia and the Dakotas have the lowest closure rates.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.