Akron Beacon Journal
The start of 2014 is seeing tens of thousands of Ohio residents losing long-term emergency unemployment benefits. That loss will damage Ohio’s economy, an analyst says.
More than 2,000 Mahoning Valley residents likely saw their long-term unemployment benefits end Saturday, according to estimates from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Statewide, an estimated 40,000 to 42,000 Ohio residents were affected when a new two-year federal government budget agreement ended federal emergency jobless benefits for an estimated 1.3 million people nationwide. The extended emergency benefits program has cost about $225 billion since being enacted in 2008 during the Great Recession.
The program allowed people to receive unemployment payments for up to 99 weeks, or nearly two full years, including typical 26 weeks of state-provided benefits.
“In Ohio, we still have a documented need to retain the extended unemployment-benefits program,” said George Zeller, a Cleveland-based economics researcher who studies unemployment claims.
The state estimates that 52,400 Ohio residents had unemployment benefits end in December, with 40,000 to 42,000 losing benefits directly because of the federal budget cuts.
The federal extended benefits were made available to workers whose regular unemployment insurance benefits expired.
The National Employment Law Project said jobless Ohio residents received an average of $294 a week in extended unemployment compensation from October 2012 through September for a total cost of $692.9 million.
The New York City-based organization said its analysis shows that reauthorizing the federal extended benefits would save 6,535 jobs in the state.
Ohio has yet to recover from job losses dating to 2000, never mind the Great Recession, Zeller said. Ohio’s job growth has been weaker than national growth, he said. The latest November employment figures are “alarmingly weak,” he said. Ohio has been recovering, but the pace has been slow and weak, according to Zeller.
“Picking this particular time to end the extended unemployment benefits is very damaging to workers of the entire state of Ohio,” Zeller said. “The huge job losses in Ohio document an urgent need to help Ohio’s laid-off workers, especially until such time as Ohio recovers the massive numbers of jobs that our state has previously lost.”