Ohio job claims high but still dropping


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More than 34,000 Ohioans filed unemployment claims during the last week of May, the state reported Thursday. That’s the lowest figure since Ohio’s stay-at-home orders depressed the economy and led to widespread layoffs.

The claims are still among the highest on record in the state over the past few decades, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The 34,575 claims filed for the week ending May 30 are down from about 46,000 claims filed the previous week. Weekly claims haven’t been that high since late 2008 during the Great Recession.

The numbers announced Thursday pushed total unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic to 1.29 million, above the total number of claims over the past three years. The state says it has now distributed more than $3.5 billion to more than 6,000 unemployment claimants, close to what was paid out in both 2009 and 2010 during the recession.

Nationally, nearly 1.9 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the running total since the shutdowns took hold in mid-March to more than 42 million, the government said Thursday.

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TESTING

Increased testing in Ohio isn’t turning up more positive coronavirus cases, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The paper says more than nine of every 10 people have tested negative in the past 40 days. State officials and medical experts say they are encouraged by Ohio’s efforts to reduce the spread of the virus but caution it’s too soon to celebrate.

“We can’t let our guard down,” Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for OhioHealth, told the paper.

As of Memorial day, 340,000 tests had been administered since record-keeping began by the state on March 4, according to information obtained by the Dispatch from the Department of Health through a records request.