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As Ohio unemployment soars, some people are missing out on benefits

Ohio's unemployment claims up more than 2700%
Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 19:38:26-04

NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio — Newly-released figures show more than 111,000 Ohio workers filed new unemployment claims this week as businesses laid off workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

By comparison, state figures showed fewer than 4,000 workers filed for unemployment last week.

But some who have lost their jobs say they've slipped through unemployment's safety net.

"I feel really stuck," said Taylor Day, a bartender who just went back to work in January after the birth of her son.

COVID-19 meant a last call for her paycheck after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered all bars to close earlier this week to keep the virus from spreading.

She went online to register for unemployment benefits, but soon learned there was a problem.

"They told me that I was not qualified because I didn't work for 20 weeks there yet," said Day.

And she said she's not alone. A nine-year veteran of Cleveland's hospitality industry where workers frequently switch jobs, Day said many of her friends are facing similar situations.

"We were day-by-day livers," said Day. "So like me especially, St. Patrick's Day was coming up, I was going to work that day, bring in some money, be able to pay my bills, get my head back up afloat, and it just didn't happen that way."

The Bureau of Labor statistics says 106,300 people work in leisure and hospitality in the Cleveland area. While it's not clear how many will be laid off during the pandemic, Day believes the ripples effect on the economy could be huge.

Now she hopes the state will ease the 20-week requirement for workers to collect unemployment as more and more businesses close because of coronavirus.

"How long is this going to last for us?" wondered Day. "That's my biggest fear and the concern is not knowing."