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Ohio jobless rate hits record high

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s unemployment rate hit 16.8 percent on Friday, the highest since the state’s current record-keeping system was developed almost 50 years ago.

The figure comes after nine weeks of job losses following the decision to shut down much of Ohio’s economy to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The last time the unemployment rate was even near this figure was the 14 percent recorded in December 1982 and January 1983, said Bret Crow, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The 16.8 percent is the highest since the current statistical record keeping began in 1976.

The total number of workers unemployed in Ohio in April was 957,000, an increase of 623,000 from March’s level of 334,000.

The state’s leisure and entertainment industry — which includes bars, restaurants and hotels — was particularly hard hit, losing 263,500 jobs in one month, or about 50 percent of that sector’s total employment, Crow said.

The manufacturing sector of the state’s economy lost 101,000 jobs since April 2019, JFS reported.

The double-digit Ohio rate spiked from 5.8 percent in March and 4.1 percent in April a year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate for April was 14.7 percent, up from 4.4 percent in March and up from 3.6 percent in April 2019.

The state reported Thursday that more than 1.2 million people filed unemployment claims in the past nine weeks as Ohio’s stay-at-home order depressed the economy and led to widespread layoffs.

The unemployment rates for cities and counties in April will be released by Ohio JFS on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,872, state health officials said Friday.

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