CLEVELAND — For the first time in months, some unemployed residents can finally get the in-person help they need after the Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Center reopened its office to the public on Monday.
Most recently, the office closed its doors to the public in October after guidance provided by Governor Mike DeWine.
As of today, Ohio has 29 red counties. That is 65% of Ohioans who are living in red counties. pic.twitter.com/6XQtKKqpCb— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) October 15, 2020
Frank Brickner serves as the interim CEO at Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County.
“To close the doors, that was a tough decision for us personally,” he said.
Before the pandemic, Brickner told News 5 their rooms would fit around 100 people on a given day.
Now thanks to social distancing, he expects to only see a half dozen at a time.
“I’m anticipating over the next quarter, we will gradually bring everything back,” Brickner said. “While our services are limited right now, I think they will grow as the COVID-19 numbers go down.”
In addition to shifting resources online, Brickner noticed a shift in how people were asking for help and resources.
“That’s what’s really changed: the number of residents in the community we’ve helped pivot to a new career,” he said, pointing to medical care and IT as popular sectors for those unemployed looking for a change.
Brickner told News 5 he would still encourage everyone to initially use their online resources before coming to their office.
“It’s one of those things where you want to be able to be employable, but once you’re employable, you want to know you can stay employed,” job center manager Sonya Gant said.
As unemployment statistics illustrate, the unprecedented need continues for Northeast Ohio.
Cuyahoga County reached a peak unemployment rate of nearly 23% in April.
In August, that unemployment rate dropped to 11.7% but still sits at 6.8% as of December.
For Ericka Biami, the reopening of the offices means a way to file for her to finally file for unemployment.
“It’s been pretty hard and it’s been complicated,” she said. “Just trying to stay afloat. It really helps that it’s back open so now I can get the help I need finding a job and getting unemployment.
Depending on the county, the protocols for the Ohio Means Jobs Centers vary. To see the status of your nearest office, click here.