Nearly one million Ohioans have applied for unemployment benefits since March, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
Nearly 200,000 Ohioans are waiting in limbo as their applications are listed as “pending.”
Kimberly Hall, Director of ODJFS, said the department was inundated with claims in a very short period of time.
“We had a public health response that triggered an economic event overnight with a system that we were already aware that we needed to make an improvement,” Hall said.
Since March, ODJFS has resolved 775,000 unemployment claims, according to Hall.
“Either they are approved, they’ve been denied, some have been withdrawn,” Hall said. “And then we have another 20 percent that we know are pending.”
Frustrations are boiling over for the nearly 200,000 Ohioans with pending claims.
“We’re averaging over half a million calls every day,” Hall said, “On Friday we had close to a million.”
Hall said the high volume of questions is flooding the system.
“Not all of the million calls that come in are going to be able to hold for an agent,” Hall said. “We don’t have that capacity.”
She added the state has now spent more than $25 million training call center agents and beefing up online assistance.
“We’re finding repeat calls around, ‘What’s my claim status?’ You can now use interactive voice technology to type in your claim number and get your claim status,” Hall said.
Since Friday, 82,000 Ohioans have registered for the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, designed for people who wouldn’t ordinarily qualify for unemployment compensation, but are experiencing unique circumstances.
However, those payments may not be sent out until mid-May, according to Hall.
Claimants may apply for unemployment benefits online, or by phone by calling 1-877-644-6562 or 1-614-387-8408.
Agents are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On weekends, agents are available beginning at 9 a.m.