CINCINNATI — During a visit to Lower Price Hill on Thursday, United States Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said Ohioans should expect to see the country’s economy continue recovering in the last months of 2020.
“What we’ve seen is millions of people get back to work,” Scalia said. “We’ve seen the unemployment rate drop nationwide.”
That was true in July, per that month’s national jobs report. August numbers will be released Friday.
But around 38,000 people remain out of work in Hamilton County alone. Among them is Ebony Cobbins, a mother of four who lost her job due to the pandemic and said in July she planned to begin rationing her insulin to cover other expenses.
Since then, she’s seen a slimmer, paler version of the hope that Scalia described. She and her husband, an underwriter, have learned to budget through some emergencies and build up their stockpile of hope.
She’s still afraid of what might happen if the virus surges again. The government’s response the first time didn’t inspire much confidence, she said.
“Are businesses going to have to be shut down?” she said. “Are businesses going to have to be put back on the stay-at-home order? Do they have an agenda or things they know they need to be prepared to take care of this time around?"
WCPO took her question to Scalia, who on Thursday toured a Cincinnati warehouse owned by a local business called Consolidated Metal Products.
Consolidated furloughed many employees in April and May, but later brought them back and even added new hires. Scalia said he sees many reasons for optimism, including in situations like the one Cobbins worries about.
“We're so much more prepared to deal with the virus today than we were in March,” Scalia said. “We understand so much better how it's transmitted, how to avoid that. We have treatments now that we didn't have then."