Ohio to end $300 weekly unemployment benefit Saturday

Ohio stops participating Saturday in a federal pandemic compensation program that provides an extra $300 in unemployment each week.

Gov. Mike DeWine first declared the state would do this in mid-May.

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FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives an update on COVID-19 at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.  Multiple Ohio local health departments are sounding the alarm about legislation restricting their ability to respond to emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic. The agency heads laid out their concerns in letters to  DeWine on Tuesday, March 24, 2021, documenting how the bill would slow down or block local officials from ordering businesses to close or requiring residents to quarantine or isolate without a medical diagnosis. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives an update on COVID-19 at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Multiple Ohio local health departments are sounding the alarm about legislation restricting their ability to respond to emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic. The agency heads laid out their concerns in letters to DeWine on Tuesday, March 24, 2021, documenting how the bill would slow down or block local officials from ordering businesses to close or requiring residents to quarantine or isolate without a medical diagnosis. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Credit: Tony Dejak

Credit: Tony Dejak

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reemphasized that message Friday.

“When this program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when a vaccine wasn’t available and jobs were scarce,” said Matt Damschroder, interim director of that department. “This is no longer the case as we now have an abundant supply of vaccines and plenty of available jobs.”

The thinking among advocates of the move is that ending the benefit spurs job searches among the unemployed. If benefits are too high, some people might be less inclined to look for work or accept job offers, according to that school of thought.

Employers have long told the Dayton Daily News that they have many job openings they often cannot fill with qualified people.

Already, the specter of lower benefits may be having an impact.

“We have already heard from employers who have received more job applications since Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio would end extended unemployment benefits,” Jennifer Hann Harrison, partner-in-charge of the Dayton Taft Law office, said Friday. “Ending extended benefits will help many employers with their hiring needs, although it may not be a solution for employers who seek in demand workers in highly specialized fields.”

“I truly believe that receiving a paycheck in return for actual work is incredibly important to an individual, as well as society,” said Natalie Dunlevey, owner of Dayton-area credit card processing company National Processing Solutions. “Restaurant owners have suffered the greatest with the extra unemployment payments to individuals. In the long run these extra benefits hurt large and small businesses.”

There’s another view: That ending benefits will unnecessarily harm some people.

“By cutting off these benefits to unemployed Ohioans, DeWine is not only dealing a cruel blow to families, he will hurt Ohio’s economy by depriving businesses of nearly $1 billion in spending that won’t happen now,” Policy Matters Ohio Research Director Zach Schiller said this week.

Schiller points to research that shows that cutting off benefits early didn’t push jobless rates down in other states.

“And this week’s job report makes clear that Ohio’s economy remains sluggish: The number of jobs is below where it was last November,” he said.

Ohio lost more jobs last month than any other state, and it was the only state that saw its unemployment rate increase, according to recent preliminary data from two federal surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.