COLUMBUS, Ohio — The number of new unemployment claims in Ohio last week fell for the ninth straight week, though total claims since the coronavirus crisis began are now approaching 1.3 million.
For the week of May 24-30, 34,575 Ohioans filed initial unemployment claims, according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services data released Thursday. That’s 7,507 fewer claims than were filed the previous week, according to the department.
In all, 1,292,413 of Ohio’s 11.75 million residents have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus crisis led Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration to shut down “non-essential” businesses (including bars and restaurants) and issue a “stay-at-home” order starting in mid-March. That’s more than the total number of jobless claims filed in the state during the previous three years.
The weekly record for initial unemployment claims was 272,188, filed the week ending March 28.
During the past 11 weeks, the state of Ohio says it has paid $3.5 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 668,000 people.
Nationwide, 1,877,000, people filed initial jobless claims, down 249,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Ohio’s unemployment insurance system has struggled to handle the onslaught of claims, with people waiting weeks to receive benefits and facing long waits to talk with a system agent.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Hall, testifying before a legislative committee last week, apologized to Ohioans who haven’t yet received benefits.
But she defended her agency’s overall response to a “tsunami” of claims from the coronavirus crisis, blaming “antiquated technology” and bureaucratic rules for the delay in benefits to the approximately 77,000 Ohioans who still have pending claims.