Ohio Reports 226K New Jobless Claims for Week

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services today reported 226,007 initial jobless claims to the U.S. Department of Labor for the week ended April 4.

In neighboring Pennsylvania, the number of initial claims for the week ended April 4 totaled 283,714.

Businesses in both states – and across the nation – have reduced hours or shuttered and shed workers as governors have issued stay-at-home orders and closed nonessential businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment offices have been flooded with new claims as a result, forcing states to update their systems and add workers.  

Last week was the second consecutive week that more than 200,000 new claims were filed by Ohioans. Last week’s report brings the number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last three weeks to 696,519.

In comparison, Ohioans filed 364,603 initial jobless claims during all of 2019. 

The staggering claims data comes as businesses deemed “essential” are looking for workers. Nearly 500 employers have posted more than 33,000 jobs at Coronavirus.ohio.gov/jobsearch, including health care, manufacturers of personal protective equipment, and food distribution, according to Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

During the past three weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $124 million in unemployment compensation payments to more than 195,000 claimants, reported Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Hall on Wednesday. 

For the three weeks ended April 4, Pennsylvania unemployment claims totaled $1.07 million. 

Nationwide, another 6.61 million claims were filed last week, rough one in 10 members of the U.S. labor force. That’s the second highest number of claims ever, surpassed by the 6.87 million claims filed the week ended March 28.  

Claims during the past three weeks claims have totaled nearly 17 million, indicating that at least that many workers have lost their jobs in response to the coronavirus outbreak and the public health response, said Gus Faucher, chief economist for PNC Bank. 

“That scale of job losses is unprecedented in U.S. history,” Faucher said. 

The number of individuals seeking jobless benefits last week brought the United States to a grim landmark: More than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The figures collectively constitute the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. By contrast, during the Great Recession it took 44 weeks – roughly 10 months – for unemployment claims to go as high as they now have in less than a month.

Following the “huge” loss of 701,000 jobs in the March jobs report, the April report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will be released May 8, will show job losses in the millions, Faucher said. That will “likely shatter” the previous record month for job losses set in late 1945 of 1.96 million in late 1945, when the end of World War II led to a huge drop in military-related production.

More than 20 million people may lose jobs this month. The unemployment rate could hit 15% when the April employment report is released in early May. 

“The carnage in the American labor market continued unabated,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM, a tax advisory firm.

“Some of the job losses over the past few weeks may not be permanent given policies in the stimulus bill to encourage businesses to hold onto their workers,” Faucher predicted. “But still, the scale of job losses because of the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions on movement would have been unthinkable just a couple of months ago.”

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 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.