A pedestrian walks down the sidewalk past all the “Closed” signs on businesses in downtown Urbana in mid-April. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

33 million Americans jobless since March

Nearly 3.2 million Americans filed for new unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2, which represents a decrease of 677,000 people from the previous week’s number..

 

While the number of Americans filing for new or “initial” benefits has hit record levels every week, those levels have also consistently fallen from a peak of nearly 7 million in March.

In all, more than 33 million Americans nationally have lost their jobs since mid-March, a horrendous figure that observers expect will lead to the highest ever monthly unemployment number when the April jobless report is released Friday.

For the same week, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 61,083 new jobless claims to the federal government.

The number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last seven weeks — 1,118,569 — is 1,112 more than the combined total of 1,117,457 for the last three years.

In Montgomery County, 3,297 people filed new claims for benefits, while 35,616 filed for continuing claims.

In Butler County, there were 1,889 new claims for unemployment benefits and 21,666 continuing claims. In Warren County, 1,122 people filed new claims while 12,088 filed continuing claims.

And in Clark County, 620 filed new claims for jobless benefits while 9,315 filed continuing claims. 

Over these last seven weeks, the state has distributed more than $1.9 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 536,000 Ohioans.

In some states more than 25 percent of workers are unemployed. 

“We estimate that the effective payroll of state unemployment offices is now in excess of $16 billion per week,” said Patrick Anderson, head of the Anderson Economic Group, a Michigan-based analytics firm. “States are quickly becoming one of the largest sources of household income in the country.”

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Without a federal bailout, Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund will go broke sometime in June, forcing Ohio to borrow money, cut benefits or raise employer taxes to keep it going, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted warned last month.

The state has been asking resident to file claims for jobless benefits online, if they can, at unemployment.ohio.gov. But many residents say they have not been able to use the system or reach state workers for assistance.

Ohio government says it has added employees to deal with the massive wave of jobless claims.

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