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Jobless Ohioans Waiting on Senate Action

July 12, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's back to work for Congress today. Many are hoping an extension of federal jobless benefits will be the first item on the agenda in the Senate. The House passed an extension in May, but the Senate has not acted, leaving more than 100,000 Ohioans with no financial support and thousands more losing benefits each week.

Policy Matters Ohio research director Zach Schiller, who recently authored a report about the extension, says these aren't statistics...these are families trying to survive.

"So many families might have at least been able to buy gas or put food on the table or pay their mortgage and now will find they may not have any resources to do so, and they therefore have to resort to other government programs because they can't make do."

Out-of-work Ohioans have been eligible for up to 73 weeks of federally paid benefits, in addition to the regular 26 weeks of state benefits. Those against the extension are concerned about adding to the federal deficit, but Schiller says helping the unemployed will strengthen the economy, which in turn will help the deficit.

There isn't much hope right now for those looking for work, as 10.7 percent of the labor force in Ohio is without a job. Schiller says it's a very weak labor market with very high long-term unemployment.

"Close to half of all of the unemployed have been without work for more than six months. This is why we need extended benefits, because we have more than five workers seeking jobs for every job opening."

Schiller adds that the share of jobless people who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks is higher than at any time since data began being collected, soon after World War II.

The report is available at www.policymattersohio.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH