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In-Depth: Could Ohio's cut of $300 weekly federal aid hurt some struggling families?

In-Depth: Could Ohio cut in $300 weekly federal aid hurt some struggling families?
In-Depth: Could Ohio cut in $300 weekly federal aid hurt some struggling families?
Posted at 9:56 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 00:48:17-04

CLEVELAND — Some Northeast Ohio families are concerned Governor Mike DeWine's decision to stop $300 in federal pandemic weekly unemployment aid to jobless workers could magnify their daily financial struggles.

DeWine announced weekly federal pandemic unemployment benefits will stop on June 26, as Ohio joins several others states in rejecting federal unemployment aid.

He believes the move will get more Ohioans back to work, stimulate the state economy and help a growing number of employers who are reporting they can't find enough available workers to fill thousands of job openings statewide.

But Lakesha Tamyia Davis, who has dealt with unemployment and is currently helping dozens of mothers facing pandemic-related financial hardship through her Power of Women of God program believes the move to cut federal benefits comes too quickly.

“For a lot of people it will be kind of tough on them, Davis said.

“I believe they need to give people more time and check-in and find out where they were employed and signed up for work.”

“They should give people an opportunity, a longer length of time to be able to prepare themselves for what’s coming.”

Hannah Halbert, Executive Director with Policy Matters Ohio, agrees the move will hurt Ohio's struggling families, especially women.

“There’s many communities that are still suffering, and certainly many families that are still struggling, and that $300 was a lifeline for those folks during this crisis," Halbert said.

“That’s really hit women hard, and without adequate childcare, women can’t get back to work, and here we are cutting unemployment.”

But John Barker, President of the Ohio Restaurant Association, which represents 23,000 Ohio restaurants, said the move will help the economy, and help with a statewide worker shortage, the association's latest survey shows is growing.

“And it’s now 71% of our operators who say it’s their number one issue, and in January only 8% said that's, so that’s how quickly that became a massive issue," Barker said.

“This definitely will be a major help for our industry and we've launched a massive training program to bring people into our industry."

Joan Hamm, Executive Director of Children First of Cleveland, said her agency has had a tough time, even with a staffing agency, finding enough available daycare workers.

“It’s been quite a big challenge for us, we’ve had to do a lot of shifting," Hamm said. "They’ve been struggling to find staff to fill the staff at the staffing agency.”

“My fear of course is that we won’t have the employees to change our ratios and up our numbers.”

Meanwhile, DeWine pointed to the Ohio Means Jobs website, where he said more than 181,000 job openings are currently posted, with more than half of those jobs paying more than $50,000 a year.