Furloughed federal employees get unemployment pay from Ohio but will need to repay it

A woman receives a carton of milk at a food distribution center for federal workers impacted by the government shutdown, at the Barclays Center on Jan. 22, 2019, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Organized by Food Bank For New York City and the Barclays Center, the pop-up distribution center was organized to provide food, vital products, and other resources for furloughed federal workers. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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A woman receives a carton of milk at a food distribution center for federal workers impacted by the government shutdown, at the Barclays Center on Jan. 22, 2019, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Organized by Food Bank For New York City and the Barclays Center, the pop-up distribution center was organized to provide food, vital products, and other resources for furloughed federal workers. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ohio has granted unemployment compensation to 310 furloughed federal workers and they will have to re-pay those benefits now that the shutdown has ended.

More than 750 federal employees statewide applied for jobless benefits and more than 40 percent of them have been approved. Most of the others are still pending, according to Bret Crow, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump earlier this month will give furloughed workers back pay even if they didn’t work during the shutdown. Those workers will have to repay the state once they receive back pay for their federal jobs, Crow said. A tally of the total unemployment payments wasn’t available.

Trump said earlier today that he would sign a bill reopening shuttered government departments for three weeks, dropping his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border.

The U.S. Senate and House quickly followed up by passing stopgap spending bills on voice votes to reopen the government with no funding for the wall and Trump signed the legislation, ending the shutdown. Negotiations on border security are expected to begin with the end of the shutdown.

A TSA worker at the Dayton International Airport checks passengers at TSA Precheck. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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A TSA worker at the Dayton International Airport checks passengers at TSA Precheck. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Nationwide there were 800,000 furloughed federal employees of the shutdown departments of agriculture, commerce, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, justice, state, transportation, and treasury and the Environmental Protection Agency. About 420,000 of them are deemed “essential” and required to work without pay.

RELATED: Shutdown affects local workers: ‘It got real for us’

“We only pay claims for furloughed workers, not those essential workers who are working without pay. Federal employees that are still working during the shutdown generally are not eligible for Ohio unemployment insurance because they are considered still employed,” Crow said.

Today all of the furloughed workers missed their second paycheck of the shutdown, which began Dec. 22.

Unemployment compensation pays about half of an employee’s average weekly earnings up to a maximum that’s based on the number of dependents.

The state doesn’t have a way to track the number of furloughed federal workers who applied for food stamps or other aid, Crow said.

County-by-county statistics for unemployment claims by federal workers weren’t available on Friday. There were about 400 federal workers affected by the shutdown in Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Darke, Champaign and Shelby counties, according to Office of Personnel Management data from June 2018.

Congress already funded the military so U.S. Department of Defense employees working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base aren’t furloughed.

Ohio’s two senators released statements after Trump’s announcement.

“The president decided to do his job 35 days too late, after inflicting a world of unnecessary pain on workers across this country — all for a border wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “We must take action to ensure all workers get the paychecks they are owed, including janitorial, food service, and other contract workers who have been hurt by the president’s shutdown.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Furloughed federal workers and those aligned with them protest the partial government shutdown in the Hart Senate Office Building January 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Members of the National Federation of Federal Employees, the American Federation of Government Employees, the AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, DC Jobs With Justice, International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers and the Machinists Union sponsored an “Occupy Hart” protest on Capitol Hill against the partial government shutdown. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Furloughed federal workers and those aligned with them protest the partial government shutdown in the Hart Senate Office Building January 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Members of the National Federation of Federal Employees, the American Federation of Government Employees, the AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, DC Jobs With Justice, International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers and the Machinists Union sponsored an “Occupy Hart” protest on Capitol Hill against the partial government shutdown. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Brown and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, both said there is bipartisan support for additional border security measures.

"The announcement today is consistent with the letter that a group of Republicans and Democrats agreed on last week that outlined a process for reopening the government in the short term with the commitment to a border security plan that can be enacted in the next few weeks," said Portman, who introduced a bill to permanently end government shutdowns.

“(Shutdowns) hurt federal employees and their families, disrupt critical government services and increase the cost to taxpayers,” Portman said. “This shutdown confirmed what we already knew about shutdowns. Let’s do something about it now while the pain and inefficiency of this moment is fresh on our minds.”

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