COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The weekly $300 federal unemployment payment for Ohioans to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will end next month, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.
The governor said the payment, which came on top of state unemployment benefits, was a necessary tool to buoy unemployed Ohioans during the pandemic as jobs dried up. But now the state has thousands of available jobs and a tool to stop COVID-19 in the form of vaccinations, DeWine said.
"When this program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was to slow its spread through social distancing, masking, and sanitization," said DeWine, a Republican. "That is no longer the case."
The state will tell the U.S. Department of Labor it's ending its participation June 26, the governor said. Multiple other states have made similar announcements. Ohio's state human services agency has distributed more than $10.8 billion in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments to more than a million Ohioans since March of last year.
That's on top of $9.8 billion in state unemployment benefits paid to nearly 1 million residents.
Business groups said the weekly payment was making it difficult to recruit employees. Critics of ending the federal benefit say workers have multiple reasons why they might not be returning to the workforce, such as women who left jobs during the pandemic to care for children.