Coronavirus In Ohio: Here's What You Need To Know About Unemployment

Mar 20, 2020

Ohio’s unemployment numbers have been staggering. Claims have skyrocketed close to 140,000 in the first four days of the week as bars, restaurants, salons, movie theaters, and a whole host of other businesses close during the pandemic. 

A few businesses, though, need more hands on deck to meet booming demand.

Grocery stores are hiring. Kroger is filling thousands of jobs in stores and distribution centers in Central Ohio to help meet needs. 

Amazon is hiring 100,000 to staff busy distribution centers, including 4,600 in Ohio.

Hospitals are encouraging service industry workers to apply for jobs ranging from food service to other gigs that require customer service experience but no college degree, like patient access coordinators.

Recently unemployed workers will need to weigh if they will get more money from unemployment - roughly 60% of their paycheck - or from taking one of these new openings. 

Still, it's probably not enough to offset the amount of people who have lost their jobs: Just from Monday through Thursday, 139,468 people applied for unemployment in Ohio. Last week, during the same time period, that number was only 4,815 people. 

And the number may continue to grow. While Gov. Mike DeWine has already shut down most businesses, some, like factories, remain open. It's possible that they may be ordered to close soon, especially if businesses aren't complying with the governor's requests to take workers' temperatures and ensure proper cleaning of facilities. 

"Let me make it clear: I will air on the side of protecting people," DeWine tweeted Friday. "The bad behavior, the reckless behavior, must stop."

If that happens, more people will be laid off, and more people will turn to unemployment. 

Forecasters also expect a longer-term economic dip from the pandemic. It's uncertain if businesses that have had to close their doors will be able to reopen, meaning a section of the workforce won't have employment even once this is all over. 

Meanwhile, some people who can't go to work now are unable to access unemployment benefits. Some barbers, salon technicians, stylists, tattoo artists and piercers - whose businesses were closed this week by the state health department - are independent contractors. And 1099 workers cannot file for unemployment in Ohio. 

Speaking Wednesday on NPR’s All Things Considered, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said they are asking the federal government to provide relief.

"You have a lot of people who are 1099s, meaning that they're independently operating in businesses - that might mean a hairdresser or somebody like that who, if we close these places, they will not be eligible for unemployment under the traditional mechanisms," he said. "And so we're reaching out, saying, help us find solutions for them, too."

This Week, DeWine and other governors requested the Trump administration to unlock federal disaster unemployment benefits, but it's unclear when or if the government will make those changes.

The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.