COLUMBUS — Newly out-of-work Ohioans are running into delays in getting aid, as the state is receiving a record amount of unemployment claims.
In the past three weeks, nearly 700,000 people filed for unemployment in Ohio – almost double the number of claims filed in all of 2019.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has paid more than $124 million in unemployment payments to more than 195,000 people in the past three weeks. The department said the record number of unemployment seekers is overwhelming its systems, causing delays for those filing for aid.
ODJFS has distributed a guide to help those who need to file weekly unemployment claims relating to COVID-19 avoid processing delays.
ODJFS reported 226,007 jobless claims were filed for the week ending April 4, making it the second straight week that more than 200,000 new claims were filed in the state. Despite the high numbers, the April 4 claims were lower from the week before.
On Thursday, the director of the ODJFS said the state is working to set up a program to handle the influx of pandemic unemployment claims, but it is not expected to be ready until May.
“It’s frustrating and challenging for individuals to be in limbo right now while we are understanding requirements and partnering with a vendor to build a system, but they really need to wait until they have the PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] system established,” said ODJFS Director Kim Hall.Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said hundreds have been added to the state call center to handle the inquires, but filers must remain patient.
Ohioans are encouraged to file for unemployment online and those who can't may call 1-877-644-6562 (OHIO-JOB). The call center is now open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
More than 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past month. Last week alone, 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said.