Sen. Brown urges Congress to promote economic opportunity
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Feb 5, 2014 at 4:23 PM
Following President Obama’s State of the Union call to extend unemployment insurance, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged Congress to come together to pass the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.
Brown’s legislation would extend emergency unemployment insurance benefits for more than 128,000 Ohioans who will be affected by the end of the year without a renewal. Brown also released county-by-county data on the number of Ohioans who immediately lost their benefits after 2013.
“Congress must come together to strengthen the middle class and ensure that every Ohioan has the opportunity to be a part of it,” Brown said. “We can help achieve this by fighting for those who are still struggling after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. At a time when our economy is still recovering, extending emergency unemployment insurance would help 128,000 hardworking Ohioans pay the bills, heat their homes, and put food on the table while they search for new jobs.”
In total, more than 52,000 Ohioans were immediately stripped of their Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits as a result of an extension not passing or their 63 weeks of eligibility for the program expiring. By the end of 2014, another 76,000 Ohioans will lose their emergency unemployment insurance if an extension is not passed.
In Huron County, 306 residents lost their unemployment compensation at the end of December. Here are the number of residents who suffered the same fate in surrounding counties: Ashland County, 217 residents; Crawford County, 223; Erie County, 344; Lorain County, 1,629;Richland County, 551; Sandusky County, 258; and Seneca County, 204.
The EUC program was authorized by Congress in 2008 and has supported more than 790,000 Ohioans. In 2012, unemployment benefits helped keep about 600,000 Ohio children further away from poverty. Just in Ohio:
· If unemployment insurance is not extended, more than 128,000 Ohioans would lose their benefits, including 52,000 who have already lost benefits;
· Since 2008, more than 6,500 Ohio jobs have been saved due to EUC benefits;
· The average weekly unemployment benefits in Ohio is $318; and
· The maximum weekly unemployment benefits in Ohio is $413.
Locally, Huron County continues to creep up the state’s list of counties with the highest unemployment rate.
Of the estimated 26,100 people in Huron County’s projected labor force in December, 2,800 were unemployed, according to statistics released last week by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).
That 10.8 percent jobless figure ranks Huron County sixth among Ohio’s 88 counties in that dubious category.
Ohio’s unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in December 2013, down from 7.4 percent in November, according to the ODJFS. Ohio’s nonfarm wage and salary employment increased 5,000 over the month, from a revised 5,195,600 in November to 5,200,600 in December.
The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in December was 416,000, down 11,000 from 427,000 in November. The number of unemployed has increased by 31,000 in the past 12 months from 385,000. The December unemployment rate for Ohio was up from 6.7 percent in December 2012.
The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 6.7 percent, down from 7.0 percent in November and from 7.9 percent in December 2012.
Ohio still trails its 2013 job growth peak set in May by more than 13,000 jobs despite a slight growth of 5,000 jobs in December, according to data from a survey of employers released by the ODJFS.
Monthly numbers are always preliminary and subject to revision, making it unwise to make too much of monthly fluctuations. Further revisions are expected with the upcoming annual benchmarking. Longer-term trends suggest that the state is struggling to recover from the recession. The nation’s 12-month growth rate, a modest 1.6 percent, is more than triple the Ohio rate of 0.5 percent.
“The state saw big gains and big losses in early 2013, and while the size of the monthly fluctuations has shrunk, the overall pattern has remained the same,” said Hannah Halbert, workforce researcher for Policy Matters Ohio. “We are on a job growth seesaw, producing weak growth. It’s not the upward trajectory that Ohio workers so desperately need.”
Over the year, Ohio added a total 25,600 jobs, not a healthy growth rate. During the 1980s and 1990s economic recoveries, Ohio often gained close to 100,000 jobs a year.
Annual losses of public jobs (-9,500) offset some of the growth in goods-producing (5,200) and service-providing (29,900) sectors. Local public jobs (-7,800) lost more than any other job type.
“These losses are slowing down the state’s recovery,” Halbert said. “Cutting taxes and reducing funding for essential programs and services is not producing the promised economic growth.”