158K New Unemployment Claims Filed in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services received 158,678 jobless claims last week, bringing the total over the past month to 855,197.

In 2018 and 2019 combined, the department noted in its weekly announcement, there were 715,512 claims filed. Over the past four weeks, Job and Family Services has disbursed more than $227 million to 271,000 claimants.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Labor and Industry received 238,357 claims last week, the lowest of the past four weeks but still 10 times greater than a typical week before the coronavirus outbreak. For the four weeks ended April 11, 1.3 million Pennsylvanians – nearly 20% of the state’s workforce – filed benefit claims. Since the surge of claims began, the Keystone State has issued 1.6 million payments totaling $598 million.

Nationwide, 5.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the four-week total to nearly 22 million, according to the Associated Press. In total, 12 million are receiving unemployment benefits, roughly the same number as the historic peak seen in January  2010, shortly after the Great Recession ended.

All businesses deemed nonessential have been closed in nearly every state as the economy has virtually shut down. Deep job losses have been inflicted across nearly every industry. Some economists say the unemployment rate could reach as high as 20% in April, which would be the highest rate since the Great Depression of the 1930s. By comparison, unemployment never topped 10% during the Great Recession.

Layoffs are spreading beyond service industries like hotels, bars and restaurants, which absorbed the brunt of the initial job cuts, into white collar professional occupations, including software programmers, construction workers and sales people. 

Collectively, the job cuts could produce unemployment on an epic scale. Up to 50 million jobs are vulnerable to coronavirus-related layoffs, economists say — about one-third of all positions in the United States. That figure is based on a calculation of jobs that are deemed non-essential by state and federal governments and that cannot be done from home. 

It’s unlikely that all those workers will be laid off or file for unemployment benefits. But it suggests the extraordinary magnitude of unemployment that could result from the pandemic. 

“This crisis combines the scale of a national economic downturn with the pace of a natural disaster,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor. “And that’s really unprecedented in American economic history.”

The U.S. economy is tumbling into what appears to be a calamitous recession, the worst in decades. Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, estimates that the nation’s output will shrink 10.5% before it starts to rebound. That would be more than double the contraction that occurred during the 2008-2009 recession, which was the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

Retailers and other service companies keep cutting jobs. The electronics chain Best Buy said this week that it will furlough 51,000 of its hourly employees, including nearly all its part-time workers. Royal Caribbean Cruises will cut one-quarter of its 5,000 corporate employees. 

But now, job losses are spreading well beyond occupations involving restaurants, retail, travel and entertainment, which were hit first and hardest. The software company Toast, which works with the restaurant industry, last week cut half its workforce — or 1,300 people — citing a dizzying drop in restaurant sales. Yelp, the customer review site, cut 1,000 jobs. Groupon, the online discount company, shed 2,800. 

To support the surge in claims, Ohio has extended its call center to a seven-day-a-week operation, and by the end of this week ODJFS said it will have close to 1,000 staff taking calls. 

Those without internet access can call 877 644 6562 (OHIO-JOB) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. 

The department also urges individuals to file their claims online, if possible, at Unemployment.ohio.gov

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.