Ohioans who have been unemployed for more than half a year will be seeing an end to weekly federal unemployment checks. Congress hasn't renewed the insurance program for the long-term jobless, and after Saturday, the checks will stop coming. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services estimates around 41,000 people will lose their unemployment compensation -- people who otherwise would have been able to continue receiving weekly checks had Congress renewed extended benefits beyond the regular 26 weeks in its recent budget agreement, as many Democrats had wanted.
The unemployment rate last month ticked down a tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 percent, after rising over the course of the year from 7 percent in January.
David Reines directs the Cleveland and Cuyahoga County job center, Employment Connection. He says his agency is seeing some job openings, mostly in customer service.
"There's a lot of call centers in this region, so we get a lot of requests for that," Reines said. "Clearly there's been a lot of increase in opportunities in the new racinos. And there's a lot of work going on in developing new hotels in the area."
Speaking with ideastream Dec. 16, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said he's unhappy the budget deal didn't also extend benefit payments into next year.
"I don't think we should leave town until we pass them, extend them," Brown said. "The problem is the House of Representatives has already left town. They should come back and get their work done."
That didn't happen, and it's not clear yet what Congress will do when it reconvenes next year.
In an email, a spokeswoman for Republican Sen. Rob Portman says he's open to a deal extending unemployment insurance, "so long as those benefits address job creation and are paid for so we don’t add to our nation’s burdensome debt."
Portman also indicated he'd like to see changes to tax or regulatory policy.