Two hundred and fifty thousand Ohioans will soon lose access to much-needed unemployment funds. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that his administration won’t look to reinstate enhanced weekly $300 unemployment benefits that are set to expire September 6.
“This is a negative thing for Ohio,” Policy Matters Ohio research director Zach Schiller said. “We’d very much hope to see that those benefits be extended.”
Lost and Found OTR owner Steven Clement said the announcement is a back-breaker for many, leaving them without unemployment benefits to rely on.
“For the hospitality industry, I don’t think it’ll move a ton of people back into it right away,” he said. “I think we’ll see a lot of these talented people do something else with their life.”
Many recipients of unemployment in Ohio have been without the additional $300 a week since June 26, when Gov. Mike DeWine ended the state's participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program.
Schiller said that decision cost the state $750,000,000.
“I find it disheartening that our political leadership seems to have embraced the concept that Ohio workers are sort of trying to take advantage of the system,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what I think of Ohio workers.”
The equation, Schiller said, is simple. Less money being spent means less being pumped into the economy, leaving many with an uncertain future.
“This will hurt them and their families and make it much more difficult for them to put food on the table, make sure there’s a roof over their head,” he said.
All is not lost yet, however. Three unemployed Ohioans filed a lawsuit seeking to have those benefits reinstated.
The US Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business support DeWine’s decision to end the benefits, saying it will reduce labor shortages due to eliminating the incentive for workers to collect unemployment.
“I think that’s a blanket statement, that people don’t want to go to work, and they want to collect free money,” Clement said. “I think that’s silly.”
The federal aid is going away, according to Schiller, when it might be needed the most.
“It’s not going to bounce back to where it was,” he said. “(It’s) unrealistic to expect that. Beyond that, people have some good reasons as to why they can’t return to those jobs. Child care, to cite one.”