Ohio announces record $5 billion returned to employers

Posted at 5:39 PM, Oct 28, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio employers will receive a record $5 billion in repayments from the state insurance fund for injured workers to help with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine and the fund’s administrator announced Wednesday.

The return of the dividends marks the third such payment this year to help struggling businesses. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation sent $1.54 billion to employers in April and announced an additional $1.34 billion earlier this month.

“Our economy is coming back,” DeWine said. “But many of our businesses, businessmen and women, continue to struggle.”

The average restaurant could see a check of around $13,000 and the average farmer a check of about $9,500, the governor said. The city of Columbus — the biggest public Ohio employer that receives worker unemployment compensation through the state — will receive the largest check at $64 million.

Chan Cochran, BWC board chair, said he expects the new payment to be approved at the board’s upcoming meeting.

The checks should be in employers’ hands by the end of the month, said Stephanie McCloud, BWC administrator. She said that despite the nearly $8 billion in dividend payments this year, the fund remains strong and in fact brought in an additional $1 billion in investment this summer.

Wednesday’s dividend announcement follows the approval earlier this week of about $420 million in federal pandemic aid going to small businesses, colleges and universities, restaurants and bars, nonprofits and arts groups, among others.

Coronavirus cases are spiking in the state, with 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties now considered high incident locations. On Wednesday, the Ohio Health Department reported 2,607 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, the latest streak of daily tallies above 2,500. The state also has a record 1,536 people hospitalized with COVID-19. To date, the state has reported more than 205,000 confirmed and probable cases, including 5,256 deaths.