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Ohio unemployment claims surpass 20,000

Trumbull County sees 23 percent increase

An additional 20,090 Ohioans sought first-time unemployment help last week, marking the first time in almost two months that claims rose above 20,000 and providing further evidence the viral outbreak isn’t loosening its hold on employers already struggling to recover.

Thursday’s report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services also signals the fourth consecutive week that initial jobless claims have increased — 15 percent since the middle of September.

And across the U.S., initial claims stayed at a historically high number and even rose to 898,000, a jump of 6 percent — the highest increase in two months.

At the start of 2020, initial claims were around 200,000 a week and then soared to more than 6 million in early April as the pandemic dug in, causing employers coast-to-coast to shed workers at an unheard amount — or even close.

Applications have since slowed, but remain “stubbornly high” at around 800,000 per week, said Gus Faucher, chief economist for Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank.

In fact, last week marked the 30th in a row for claims exceeding 700,000.

“This indicates that layoffs in the U.S. remain very high, as seen in recent job cut announcements from Disney, Shell and major airlines,” Faucher said.

In Ohio, the last week’s number represents a 241 percent increase from the same week last year when there were just 5,893 claims. Over the last 30 weeks, there have been 1.7 million initial jobless claims, according to Ohio JFS.

The state also reported the number of people who continued to receive benefits fell 4 percent to 287,049, yet that still remains nearly 630 percent greater than last year.

In Trumbull County, the 312 new claims last week represent a 23 percent increase from the prior week and bring the total to more than 31,500 since mid March.

Initial claims in Mahoning County fell about 11 percent last week to 350. Since the pandemic hit, there have been nearly 37,000 initial jobless benefit claims there.

A report Thursday from the U.S. Labor Department coincides with other recent data that have signaled a slowdown in hiring. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost when the pandemic struck in early spring.

Although the U.S. unemployment has fallen, it remains high at 8.4 percent.

California, which typically accounts for about one-fourth of the nation’s jobless aid applications, has reported the same number of claims for several weeks as a placeholder. That’s because it temporarily stopped processing new applications while it implements anti-fraud technology and clears a backlog of claims.

That means jobless claims rose nationally last week even though they were unchanged in the largest state. Applications rose significantly in 17 states, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Massachusetts. In Wisconsin, they increased by a quarter to nearly 15,000.

By the numbers

Initial jobless claims:

Trumbull County

March 15 to April 4 – 12,961

April 5 to May 2 – 7,120

May 3 to 30 – 2,988

May 31 to June 27 – 2,653

June 28 to July 25 – 2,128

July 26 to Aug. 29 – 2,065

Aug. 30 to Oct. 3 – 1,325

Oct. 4-10 – 312

Total – 31,552

Mahoning County

March 15 to April 4 – 15,599

April 5 to May 2 – 8,404

May 3 to 30 – 3,449

May 31 to June 27 – 3,102

June 28 to July 25 – 2,331

July 26 to Aug. 29 – 2,055

Aug. 3o to Oct. 3 – 1,689

Oct. 4-10 – 350

Total – 36,979

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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