COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio's unemployment rate has hit 16.8%, the highest since the state's current record keeping system was developed almost 50 years ago.
The figure released Friday follows nine weeks of job losses following the decision to shut down much of Ohio's economy to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The 16.8% unemployment rate in April is up from 5.8% in March. The rate in Ohio is also more than the national rate, which was 14.7%.
Bret Crow, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), says the last time the unemployment rate was even near this figure was the 14% recorded in December 1982 and January 1983.
Crow says the 16.8% is the highest since the current statistical record keeping began in 1976.
On Thursday, the ODJFS announced that jobless claims has topped 1.2 million in the last nine weeks.
"Of the more than 1 million applications the agency has received, more than 92 percent have been processed, with less than 8 percent pending," officials with ODJFS stated in a release. "In addition, more than 161,000 Ohioans have applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and ODJFS has issued more than $21 million in PUA payments."
There have now been a total of 1,215,756 new jobless claims since the pandemic began, including 46,062 new claims that were filed last week alone. To date, ODJFS says more than $2.8 billion has been paid in unemployment compensation.
With this increase in unemployment applications, many have experienced a delay in the process.
"All eligible Ohioans will receive their unemployment benefits – and any delays in processing their claims will not reduce the amount received. ODJFS will not rest until all eligible Ohioans are served."
All applicants are urged to file online, if possible.
"Each claim is important to us, and we recognize the hardship that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on many Ohio families," ODJFS officials said. "We are expanding staff support, working longer hours and adding more technological capacity so that we can serve Ohioans as quickly as possible."
If you're filing for unemployment, here's what you need to know:
- You can file online HERE.
- You can file by calling 1-877-644-6562 (OHIO-JOB) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
- If your job loss is a result of the coronavirus, you should enter 2000180 as the mass-layoff number while filing your unemployment application. If you have already submitted claims without this number, you do NOT need to add it.