INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Ohio’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in October which falls below the high unemployment standard set by the federal government.
As federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is scheduled to end on December 26, some Ohioans are focused on an earlier date looming on their calendars.
“The Federal Cares Act and the Federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act created several new programs,” ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said. “Extended benefits will be ending sooner than December 26.”
Ohioans like Kelly Alonso, owner of The Sweet Spa, were eligible for 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits plus 13 weeks of federal CARES Act assistance.
“Right when I was gaining some momentum and getting busy and a lot of bookings, we were mandated to close,” Alonso said.
When those benefits were exhausted, Ohioans were eligible for 20 weeks of extended benefits which come to an end Saturday.
“I still have not had any business,” Alonso said. “I’ve had one client since I reopened.”
Hall said the state’s hands are tied.
“We're deeply sorry for any hardship that this will cause,” Hall said. “We are hopeful that action will be taken soon at the federal level to continue unemployment assistance for those who are still hurting.”
Since March, Alonso said she’s dealt with a security breach and claims of fraudulent activity on her PUA account.
“So that happened and it’s caused some issues with my credit,” Alonso said.
Additionally, she said she’s being charged for alleged overpayments by ODJFS.
“So I will find a way. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. So I will, but they’re making it more difficult,” Alonso said. “Honestly they’ve made it worse. They’re supposed to be help and assistance and they haven’t been. They’ve made it a lot worse.”
According to ODJFS, nearly 17,000 have been receiving extended benefits and thousands will lose them Saturday.