LIMA — New and continued jobless claims in Ohio fell for the fourth consecutive week, but there are still nearly twice as many people out of work as there are jobs available, according to the latest Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Ohio Means Jobs data.
The Lima News compared new and continued jobless claims for the week ending August 8 against help wanted advertisements listed on OhioMeansJobs.com, which show that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services received 20,969 new jobless claims and 374,751 continued jobless claims—more than 395,000 total. But as of August 9, there were an estimated 190,000 job openings across the state.
That lack of jobs —rather than the now-expired $600 federal unemployment insurance enhancement, which was designed to replace a higher percentage of workers’ wages than traditional unemployment insurance — is the primary reason so many people remain out of work, John Navin, an economics professor and dean of the Dicke College of Business Administration for Ohio Northern University, told The Lima News.
“For most people, that’s just extra income in their pocket because unemployment is set up not to be 100% replacement, it’s set up to be a fraction of what people were earning before,” Navin said. “This just raises that fraction and provided them with a little additional disposable income that they could spend. … With or without the $600, if the economy starts to gain momentum people are going to go back to work. This is not going to hold them back.”
Recent studies have made similar findings.
In July, researchers from Yale University found that the extra weekly $600 in unemployment insurance did not discourage people from returning to work. Instead, they found that even though many displaced workers were earning more through unemployment, low-wage workers and those who live in states with less generous unemployment insurance programs still returned to work at similar rates as those with higher wages.
Still, employers are slowly bringing people back. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services data show that new and continued jobless claims are continuing to decline, and the number of new job openings is increasing.
Navin said that trend will likely continue, but he doesn’t anticipate substantial month-over-month gains, as employers won’t hire until they’re confident the economy and pandemic are improving.
“It’s going to be a slow process,” he said. “It’s going to take quite a while to get people back, because there are just so many (people unemployed) and the economy is different than it was back in March.”