It was only one day after President Barack Obama’s re-election, and some groups were already demanding action. In a Nov. 7 report by left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio, the group said the expiration of federal unemployment benefits could leave Ohio’s jobless stranded.
“If Congress doesn’t renew federal benefits, the impact in Ohio will be immediate and negative,” said Zach Schiller, research director for Policy Matters, in a statement. “Not only will the unemployed suffer, but the state economy will take a hit as well.”
If Congress and the president do not act by Dec. 29, funding for emergency unemployment benefits approved in mid-2008 will be cut off. That could threaten 50,000 Ohioans getting federally supported benefits every week.
The percent of Ohio’s unemployed receiving benefits is already lower than the national average, according to the report. Since 2001, Ohio’s unemployed have received fewer benefits than the national average. In 2011, 63 percent of Ohioans who filed claims received payments, while 71 percent of claimants all around the country got benefits.
The state’s program seems particularly weak. In 2012, the amount of unemployed Ohioans getting state benefits was 22 percent, while the national share was about 26 percent. The report shows the lower share has been the majority trend for at least 29 years.
Schiller says the cut in benefits is poor economics. In a May 2012 report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the nonpartisan agency that measures the effect of federal budgets and policy, said the repeal of extended emergency unemployment benefits would lower spending by $26 billion in the 2013 fiscal year. It would also increase the deficit by lowering income and, therefore, tax revenues, according to the CBO report.