OHIO VALLEY — For the week ending March 28, 2020, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 272,117 initial jobless claims to the U.S. Department of Labor, which set a record for the second straight week.
The number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last two week stands at 468,414. To put that in perspective, 364,603 initial jobless claims were filed during the entire year in 2019. Over these last two weeks, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services has issued unemployment compensation payments totaling more than $45 million to more than 108,000 claimants. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services urges individuals to file their claims online, if possible, at unemployment.ohio.gov.
“Each claim is important to us, and we recognize the hardship that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on many Ohio families. We have been working around the clock to streamline performance and boost capacity by adding servers so the online claims system can handle the unprecedented influx of claims, which has affected processing times. We also have reassigned more than 300 ODJFS employees to assist with call volume to increase our service capabilities. It’s important to keep in mind that during previous economic downturns, claims came in waves as the recession worsened and businesses closed gradually, over time. In this case, the claims came in all at once and created a tsunami,” said a department representative in a news release.
Such a large number of claims in a short period of time would tax any online system, especially one that is 16 years-old, the release said.
FAQ sheets general information can be found at jfs.ohio.gov/unemp_comp_faq/index.stm and coronavirus-specific information can be found at jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm.
Expanded call center hours have been made for those without internet access or who need help with PIN resets. Individuals can call 1-877-644-6562 (OHIO-JOB) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
Coronavirus-related claims workers who lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus can enter the mass-layoff number 2000180 on their applications. However, if affected individuals have already submitted claims without this number, they do not need to add it. As a reminder, mass-layoff notices are posted at jfs.ohio.gov/warn/current.stm.
According to Gallia Job and Family Services Executive Director Dana Glassburn, unemployment claims are handled at the state and not the local level of government. He encouraged individuals with concerns to utilize the state websites posted as much as possible.
According to information provided by the Gallia Job and Family Services, Ohio is in the midst of discussions with the federal government surrounding CARES Act legislation that reportedly will grant an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance through the end of July. However, the state’s job and family services system isn’t geared for such an action so it will take time to address the issue. The department is also looking to extend benefits for self-employed individuals. The Ohio Job and Family Services Office of Workforce Development is also working with the Ohio Workforce Association for emergency dislocated worker funding. The state is also working to create a website to market employers hiring during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dean Wright contributed to this report.