Nearly 200,000 Ohioans have filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks, and more are likely to need those benefits soon. But many are reporting still having problems getting through either by the phone lines or online, as the state has been struggling to keep up with a system not built for this kind of volume.
Jobless claims set an all-time state record two weeks ago – flooding a website that was set up to process just 1,200 connections at a time. Now it can do 24,000. A hundred employees have been added to the call center.
But Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said more claims will pour in with self-employed contractors known as 1099 employees. They get benefits under a federal aid bill, but the system for them to file claims has to be created from scratch.
“That is an entirely new separate system that is going to have to be set up. This will happen in weeks, not days. It’s going to take – no state has an off-the-shelf solution that they have.”
A federal aid bill also will allow for emergency paid sick leave for some workers, and also can extend benefits for people receiving unemployment compensation when the pandemic hit.
A state law signed last week makes some temporary changes to unemployment policy, waiving a one-week waiting period and also eliminating the requirement that people be actively looking for work to continue to collect unemployment compensation.
Husted said once people finally file claims, jobless payments will be retroactive.
So far the state has paid out $32 million to more than 105,000 people.