Local, state, national jobless claims tick up

Some begin to lose six months of benefits

The number of people in Ohio and across the U.S. who sought unemployment benefits grew last week, ending a short period of declines and proving the viral outbreak continues to hold an unrelenting grip on businesses.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday 17,435 new jobless claims in Ohio and 870,000 in the nation, both figures unheard of pre-pandemic.

The figure in Ohio represents 259 percent more than the same week last year and 7 percent more than the previous week while the U.S. mark is the 27th week in a row applications exceeded 700,000. That never happened before the pandemic struck six months ago.

Claims in the Mahoning Valley rose, too.

There were 274 in Trumbull County, up from 247 the prior week, pushing the total to 30,728. In Mahoning County, the 347 new claims is 28 more than the week before, giving the county 35,943 since the middle of March.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits declined to 12.6 million. The steady decline in that figure over the past several months reflects that some of the unemployed are being rehired. Yet it also indicates that others have exhausted their regular jobless aid, which lasts six months in most states.

In Ohio, there were 321,057 continued jobless claims, representing a 770 percent increase from last

year and up from 320,532 the week prior.

Under all programs, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for people not eligible for traditional unemployment like gig or self-employed workers, more than 26 million people received some type of help, said Gus Faucher, chief economist for Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank.

That represents a dip of 12.5 percent from the previous week.

The combination of initial claims remaining elevated and continuing claims remaining far more than before the pandemic, despite a gradual decline, “indicate that layoffs remain extremely high and are not abating, that some of the unemployed are returning to work, and that unemployment remains a huge problem for the U.S. economy,” Faucher said.

The numbers come two days after the state reported unemployment rates that had Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties among the top worst 10 in the state and Warren and Youngstown in the top five cities with the highest jobless rates.

Thursday’s report from the government comes against the backdrop of an economy that has been recovering fitfully from a catastrophic recession. Some economic barometers, like housing, retail purchases and auto sales, have managed to produce solid gains. But with unemployment elevated at 8.4 percent and a key federal jobless benefit having expired, the economy’s gains are believed to be slowing.

Most economists say it will be hard for the job market or the economy to sustain any recovery unless Congress enacts another rescue aid package for struggling individuals, businesses and states. Ultimately, an effective vaccine will likely be needed for the economy to fully regain its health, many analysts say.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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