Ohio Unemployment

Ohio New Unemployment Claims at Lowest Level Since November

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – There were 23,117 new unemployment claims filed in Ohio last week, according to the Department of Job and Family Services, the lowest level since early November.

The number of new claims for the week ended April 10 was down almost half – 48.6% – from the week before. It’s the fewest claims filed since the week ended Nov. 7, when 21,868 were submitted.

Of the claims filed, about 1,200 were flagged for potential fraud. Those who believe their identity has been used to file fraudulent unemployment claims can call 833 658 0394 or use the “Report Identity Theft” button at Unemployment.Ohio.gov.

The Department of Job and Family Services also reported 265,461 continued unemployment claims were filed last week, down about 22,000 from the week prior.

In the 56 weeks since the pandemic began affecting Ohio, the state has disbursed $9.4 billion in unemployment compensation to 986,000 people, as well as $10.3 billion in pandemic unemployment assistance to more than 1 million people who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment, such as part-time workers and contract workers.

In Pennsylvania, the state’s Department of Labor reported 23,360 initial unemployment claims were filed the week ended April 3, the most recent period with data available. That figure is up about 2,000 from the previous week and marks the third straight week of rising claims.

As of April 10, the state has paid $40.4 billion in unemployment compensation, including $7.5 billion in traditional unemployment and $8.6 billion in pandemic unemployment assistance.

Nationwide, the number of unemployment applications dropped to 576,000 – the lowest level since the pandemic began – from 769,000 a week earlier.

For the week ending March 27, 16.9 million people were continuing to collect jobless benefits, down from 18.2 million in the previous week. Those figures make clear that even as the economy has strengthened in recent weeks, millions are facing a loss of a job or income and have been struggling to pay bills or rent.

The drop in claims comes after employers adding 916,000 jobs in March, the most since August, in a sign that a sustained recovery is taking hold as vaccinations accelerate, pandemic business restrictions are lifted in many states and Americans appear increasingly willing to travel, shop, eat out and otherwise spend again. The unemployment rate fell to 6%, from 6.2%, less than half the pandemic peak of nearly 15%.

The nation’s unemployment rate has declined steadily, from a high of 14.8% a year ago to 6%. The last time the jobless rate was this low, weekly claims were around 350,000, still well below their current level.

Economists point to a range of potential explanations for the discrepancy. For one thing, many states are still struggling to clear backlogs of applications from previous weeks. As a result, jobless claims being reported now may stem from layoffs that occurred weeks ago. Some states are also facing what they suspect is a sizable number of fraudulent claims for unemployment aid.

Another possible factor is that under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package, the federal government is now supplementing weekly jobless benefits by $300 a week — on top of the average state unemployment payment of about $340 — through September. That extra money may be encouraging more people to request unemployment aid.

Still, not all unemployment applications are approved. The government reports each week on how many people have applied for aid — but not how many have actually received it. Claims are rejected if the applicants hadn’t earned enough money to qualify or had been fired or quit their jobs. Unemployment aid is intended for people who have been laid off through no fault of their own.

Most analysts have grown bullish about the economy’s prospects for the coming months. They include Federal Reserve Chair

Jerome Powell, who expressed his belief in an appearance last Sunday on “60 Minutes” that the economy is at “an inflection point” appears poised for a boom.

“We feel like we’re at a place where the economy’s about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly,” Powell said. “This growth that we’re expecting in the second half of this year is going to be very strong. And job creation, I would expect to be very strong.”

Many economists, in fact, are concerned more about a potential burst of inflation stemming from the unleashing of pent-up consumer demand. Prices for lumber, copper, oil and other raw materials have already risen as demand for gas, homes and electronic equipment has jumped.

Consumer prices rose 0.6% in March, the most since 2012, the government reported Tuesday, and are up 2.6% in the past year. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, though, prices rose by a more benign 1.6% year over year.

Powell has said that while inflation will likely pick up in the coming months, the price increases will probably ease as the pandemic-induced disruptions in many industries’ supply chains are worked out.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.