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Ohio Still Bulking Up Unemployment Resources As Claims Flood In

A job application with a pen.

More than 470,000 Ohioans have filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

But many are reporting still having problems getting through, either by the phone lines or online, as the state struggles to keep up with a system not built for this kind of volume.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says the state's unemployment website was set up to process just 1,200 connections at a time. The site can now handle 24,000, and 100 employees have been added to the call center.

The department also released a step-by-step guide to help people file unemployment claims.

But Husted said more claims will pour in soon, with self-employed workers and independent contractors known as 1099 employees now eligible for benefits under the new federal bill. The system for those workers to file claims has to be created from scratch.

“That is an entirely new separate system that is going to have to be set up," Husted said. "This will happen in weeks, not days. It’s going to take – no state has an off-the-shelf solution that they have.”

A federal aid bill also will allow foremergency paid sick leave for some workers, and also can extend benefits for people receiving unemployment compensation when the pandemic hit.

A state law signed last weekmakes some temporary changes to unemployment policy, waiving a one-week waiting period and also eliminating the requirement that people be actively looking for work to continue to collect unemployment compensation.

Husted said once people finally file claims, jobless payments will be retroactive.

As of Monday, the state has paid out $32 million to more than 105,000 people.