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Ohioans Receiving Unemployment Benefits Will Again Be Required To Seek New Work

This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.
Mike Groll
Associated Press

More than 1.5 million Ohioans, nearly 13% of the state’s population, have received some sort of unemployment assistance since the pandemic began last spring.

Many of those receiving unemployment benefits during the pandemic have been able to get around work requirements that are normally mandated for recipients. But starting this Sunday, Dec. 7, new recipients will have to satisfythose work requirements.

Still, Bruce Madson of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services explains that requirement can be easily satisfied in a number of ways, including applying for a job or posting a resume on the state's employment website. He says there are COVID-safe ways to comply with that requirement virtually, as well.

Although the department cannot waive the mandate, Madson adds the agency will try to have flexibility.

"Essentially, the work requirement is set in law, so this is out of our hands in terms of implementation, but we are preparing to execute the most flexible approach possible that we can work with claimants on," Madson says.

According to a department press release, "work-search requirements will be waived for individuals quarantined or isolated by order of a medical professional, local health authority or employer, per the Governor's Executive Order."

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services director Kim Hall says 853,000 Ohioans have received $7.4 billion worth of traditional unemployment payments since the pandemic began.

“We have processed more than 95% of traditional unemployment claims, and the only ones pending are those that have complexities that require more attention or more newly filed claims that have just come in," Hall says.

Hall says an additional 706,000 Ohioans have received over $7.1 billion in federally-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers people who aren't eligible for traditional unemployment, such as freelancers or independent contractors.

Hall says some people might be exhausting their benefits, but urges them to check to see if they might be eligible for additional benefits due to the pandemic.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.