More Ohio Unemployment Claims Filed in Last Two Weeks Than in All of 2019

Ohio again saw a massive increase in unemployment claims last week, according to numbers released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

More than 272,000 people in the state filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending last Saturday — up from the previous week's 187,700 filings. That number was the highest it has been in decades. That's more than all of the claims filed to the state in 2019 (364,600).

Those massive numbers have led to difficulty accessing the state's unemployment benefits system, many applicants report. ODJFS and other state officials say they've worked to increase the unemployment benefit website's capacity and have added call center employees as well.

A similarly grim picture unfolded nationally according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which tracked a record 6.65 million people filing unemployment benefits last week. That was double the record 3.3 million claims the week before.

The wave comes after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and governors in other states last month ordered mass public gatherings canceled, restaurants and bars to close to dine-in customers and non-essential businesses to shutter to try and slow the spread of the pandemic coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Ohio health officials have confirmed more than 2,500 cases of the virus here, causing 65 deaths and 679 hospitalizations. Kentucky has seen at least 670 confirmed cases and 20 deaths from the virus.

The novel coronavirus has infected at least 216,000 people across the U.S. and has caused at least 5,000 deaths.