CLEVELAND (WJW) – With businesses closing across Ohio, tens of thousands of unemployed workers are filing for unemployment, overwhelming Ohio’s systems and leading to backlogs with filing and payment.
Ohio Job and Family Services reports 187,780 people filed jobless claims in the state last week, compared iwth 7,042 filed during the previous week.
Director Kimberly Hall called the number of claims filed “unprecedented.”
“The temporary shutdowns triggered an immediate need. It was like flipping a light switch,” Hall said. “Our plan is working, not as well and as rapidly as we’d like it to. The demand for support and service has just been crushing.”
Hall said the department has added servers and built capacity to alleviate problems with online filing and assigned more personnel to answer phones. She said delays in filing will not affect benefit amounts.
“We’ve added some hardware capacity,” Hall said.
She also asked for patience amid delays with payments, including direct deposits, for those already receiving benefits. She cited issues with “batching” on the back end of the process and did not provide a specific timeframe on how long the delay may last.
“The deposits are coming,” Hall said. “All I can ask is for patience in this really critical time.”
The state has eliminated a weeklong waiting period for benefits and requirements that people who are unemployed due to coronavirus seek work. They are still required to file a weekly claim using the COVID-19 mass layoff number.
Ohio unemployment claims can be filed online at unemployment.ohio.gov or by calling 1-877-644-6562.
Hall said people having trouble filing online should restart the process instead of continuing to click buttons on the same page. Problems with filing can be reported by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.