Northeast Ohio business owners hope for spike in job-seekers as weekly unemployment bonus ends

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 9:21 PM EDT
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WELLINGTON, Ohio (WOIO) - Small business owners across Northeast Ohio are hopeful that a statewide reduction in unemployment benefits will lead more people to fill job openings.

Earlier this week, Ohio stopped paying an additional $300 per week bonus to those who were receiving unemployment.

The cost was covered by federal funding, on top of state benefits.

“Thank God,” said Robert Fortney, who’s owned Fort’s Old Town Tavern in Wellington for nearly 30 years.

He said he believes the cut in benefits will lead to more job-seekers.

“Actually, I’m counting on it,” he told 19 News. “I know people that.. it would cost them money to go to work. They’re making more money at home.”

Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who has spearheaded many of Gov. Mike DeWine’s business recovery efforts recently took to social media to promote job growth.

“Find your opportunity this week! has 192,794 jobs posted with 103,952 that pay more than $50,000 per year,” he tweeted on Monday.

On Tuesday, at the bill signing ceremony for House Bill 168, which invests $2.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into Ohio’s future, Husted referenced the dire situation.

“Many small businesses still have not recovered from the pandemic. Many more of them are having a difficult time hiring people,” he said.

And it’s not just business owners facing challenges.

The employees who are still working are feeling the trickle-down effect.

“We’re working 14 or 15 hours a day, six days a week. It’s really tough,” said Michael Baxter, a cook at Fort’s.

“I’m overworking them and can’t find help for them,” Fortney said. “I’m wearing out my good help, and I’m afraid my good help will leave.”

Fortney also said he’s hopeful some relief is on the way from House Bill 168.

Under the legislation, a $1.5 billion loan will be repaid into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund that was needed during the pandemic to pay unemployment benefits. The repayment of the loan is expected to prevent Ohio businesses from experiencing large increases in their federal unemployment payroll taxes, according to the governor’s office.

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