With Jobless Benefits Fund Tapped Out, Ohio Borrowing From Feds

[Dan Konik / Statehouse News Bureau]
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The fund from which Ohio pays jobless benefits is officially broke and the state has asked to borrow nearly $4 billion from the federal government so payments can keep going out to unemployed workers.

The state has paid $4.1 billion to 699,000 Ohioans over the last 90 days. That's a billion more than has ever been paid out in a full year. Fewer than 6 percent of claims are pending — that's a little more than 71,000, and some go back to March. About 30 percent of claims have been denied.

There was only about $88 million in the unemployment compensation fund on Tuesday, so the state asked for a $3.1 billion line of credit from the federal government and started to take funds from it.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Hall said the feds will waive interest on what’s borrowed through the end of the year, but the interest rate will go up to 2.4 percent on January 1.

“If the state doesn't pay in full by November 2022, then employers will see a gradual increase in their unemployment taxes. That will be due in January of 2023," Hall said.

And the interest rate ticks up by .3 percent every year after that.

State lawmakers are considering options such as asking voters for permission to issue bonds to pay back the loan sooner.

It took seven years to pay off the state’s $3.4 billion loan when the fund went broke in 2008.

Ohio is not the only state that's borrowing money to shore up its unemployment fund. Eight other states have requested federal borrowing authority but haven't tapped that money yet.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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