|36,000 to lose unemployment benefits|
|Monday, December 30, 2013 9:00 PM|
COLUMBUS — It’s grim news before the New Year: 36,000 Ohioans will see their unemployment benefits cut. Congress did not vote to continue federal funding that was put in place at the beginning of the Great Recession to help people after their state unemployment runs out at 26 weeks. Zach Schiller, research director, Policy Matters Ohio, said it is a program that Congress has initiated in every recession since 1957, and it is being cut at a time when there is still a great need.
“The unemployment rate now is higher than at any time when it was cut off in any of the previous programs over the past more than half-century,” Schiller said.
At the time the current program was begun in June 2008, the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.6 percent; it is now 7 percent. According to the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and U.S. Department of Labor, more than 128,000 Ohioans will be affected by the end of 2014, without an extension. On average, Ohio claimants have been receiving around $300 a week - money that Schiller said has been important in keeping many families from slipping into poverty and money that helped the unemployed continue their job search.
“There’s an erroneous argument being made lately that if we ended the program, people would get out and find jobs. That’s a really inaccurate argument. The fact is that there are three job seekers for every job opening, nationally,” he said.
There is a chance that in January, when Congress reconvenes, it could restore the benefits retroactively, he added. He offered this advice for those who are unemployed. “If you are either receiving these benefits or you would be eligible, you should continue filing for them, because if the program is restarted, which we certainly hope, it will be a lot easier for you to gain benefits if you already have been applying.”