Ohio Requests $3.1B to Help Pay Unemployment
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The state is requesting $3.1 billion in borrowing authority from the U.S. Department of Labor to meet unemployment insurance payments.
Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement during his briefing Tuesday.
“That total exceeds what we think we’ll need to pay out in benefits,” DeWine said. “It is essentially a line of credit, so we ask for greater authority than we currently think we will need so that we have it just in case we do need it.”
As of June 11, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported the state has received 1,327,843 unemployment claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the 12 weeks leading up to that last report, the agency had disbursed $3.8 billion in unemployment compensation to more than 686,000 claimants. Of all claims received, the agency has processed 94%.
In addition, the agency had issued $1.5 billion in pandemic unemployment assistance to 204,000 Ohioans.
Ohio isn’t alone in requesting federal help to pay unemployment benefits, said DeWine, citing California and Texas have made such requests. Additionally, it isn’t the first time Ohio has requested help. During the Great Recession, Ohio borrowed more than $3.3 billion, making its final payment on the balance in 2016, he said.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted advised Ohioans to be wary of scams related to unemployment claims, with one of the most widespread examples are fraudulent claims filed on behalf of people who haven’t lost their job. The state of Washington, for example, flagged 190,000 claims totaling $650 million in fraudulent claims, Husted said.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has “started to see this as well,” flagging at least 3,000 cases in the state. Part of the checks and balances in the state’s unemployment system is to ensure the agency isn’t paying out fraudulent claims, he said.
“ODJFS is working to secure your tax dollars and benefits that are due to you and no fraudsters,” Husted said.
“The reverse is also happening, unfortunately,” Husted continued. Official-looking notices claiming to be from the government are being sent to Ohioans, stating the resident has been overpaid and needs to return the money immediately.
Husted advises residents to alert the agency if they receive any such notices.
“Just know this is out there. Be skeptical. Be suspicious,” Husted said. “If it’s an unsolicited call or text, if you think something is suspicious, consult with a family member or friend before taking action.”
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.