COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that effective June 26, Ohio will stop participating in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which allows people collecting jobless benefits to receive an extra $300 weekly. The federal program is set to end in September.
With the state’s economy now in recovery and with Ohio’s unemployment rate “significantly” under the national average -- 4.7% in Ohio, 6% nationwide -- DeWine said the weekly benefit is slowing recovery as jobs go unfilled. The state will stop participating in late June to allow Ohioans time to find work, he said.
“If you look at why jobs are not being filled -- I’m sure it’s multiple reasons -- but whenever you go in and the market is distorted in that sense, you have certain consequences," DeWine said Thursday. "And you can do that and should do that when you’re in the crisis. We’re coming out of the crisis, economically. We still have COVID, but we have a way to deal with it today."
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted added that many small businesses in Ohio are now struggling to fill job openings.
“All of the data shows that there are an ample number of jobs available... Individuals that had hesitancy before can now get the vaccine,” Husted said.
Shortly after DeWine's announcement, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber president and CEO Jill Meyer applauded the rollback and encouraged Ohioans who are able to work to find jobs.
“Vaccines are being administered, businesses across our region are open, and the demand for employees is growing louder by the day," her statement read in part. "Some businesses are even rolling out hiring incentives to attract workers as we continue to move forward. Government incentives should not be a reason for an individual to not re-enter the labor market.”
On Thursday, Ohio also began mobilizing vaccination resources to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children 12 years and older, following FDA and CDC approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 inoculation for that age group.
DeWine said there are hundreds of locations where children over 12 can now receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Those sites can be found here or by calling 833-4-ASK-ODH (833-427-5634).
As of Thursday, more than 4.9 million Ohioans have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with 4.2 million vaccines completed.
Ohio is now seeing 119 COVID-19 cases out of 100,000 people statewide, and hospitalizations have dropped at least 75% since vaccines started.
"Ohioans have done a fantastic job protecting each other, protecting our families and protecting ourselves," DeWine said.
Starting May 26, adults who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a lottery for the chance to win $1 million.
Teens under the age of 17 who have been vaccinated will have the opportunity to sign up for a lottery, beginning May 18, that will last for five weeks. Each Wednesday after May 18, the state will randomly select one teen who will win a full four-year scholarship to any college or university in the state of Ohio.