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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

April's Unemployment Rate Skyrockets, Sets All-Time Record

"Closed" signs on the front of a restaurant in Bexley near downtown Columbus
Karen Kasler
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"Closed" signs on the front of a restaurant in Bexley near downtown Columbus

Ohio’s unemployment rate nearly tripled in just a month and set a record as COVID-19 closures and the state’s stay at home order fully hit economic activity.

April’s jobless rate of 16.8% is the highest ever recorded for Ohio, up a full 11 points since March.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Hall says she knows there have been problems, but the system’s workload went up 2600% when the first closures were ordered in mid-March.

“Compared of other states of our size of claims, we’re falling right in line," Hall said. "I do know that states that have caseloads similar to ours, there are some that are struggling, unfortunately, more than we are even with our antiquated system."

Ohio's 16-year old filing system was undergoing an upgrade last year, but it wasn't fully completed before the pandemic hit.

957,000 Ohioans were listed as unemployed in April.

More than 1.2 million people have filed jobless claims since mid-March, along with 618,000 who don’t typically qualify but are getting pandemic unemployment assistance from the federal government. The number of Ohioans filing for unemployment since mid-March is more than the total who filed in the last three years.

Ohio’s jobless rate is two points higher than the national rate, and beats the previous record of 14 percent in December 1982.

Hall also said at this point, the state is not denying anyone benefits for refusing to return to work. That includes people who are having trouble securing child care, since daycares can't open till May 31. But it also includes people who are concerned their employers don't have proper safety guidelines in place.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.