Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — The struggles for some unemployed Ohioans was made a little more difficult over the holiday as Congress took a break without extending the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program due to end on Saturday.
Originated in 2008, the EUC allows those who have maxed out state unemployment benefits to receive aid via federal funds. While initially passed as a temporary measure during the recession, it has been extended multiple times save this recent break and it could not happen at a worse time, too.
According to the United States Department of Labor, while the unemployment rate for the country stands at 7.0 percent for the month of November, Ohio stands at 7.4 percent.
Historically, Ohio has seen far worse days, in 1983 the state had a 13.9 percent unemployment rate. However, the current 7.4 percent is not anything to celebrate given last year the average was 7.2 percent (2012) and the new year (2013) started out at a rather optimistic 7.0 percent. Certainly better than 2011 with 8.6 percent, but as income inequality in the state continues to grow —low and middle income families have seen their household income shrink 6.9 percent over the last ten years— will 2014 be any better?
Those dependent on the extension program to keep their family above water while continuing on a job search may not see the new year as bright, not when they’ve been left without a life preserver —an estimated 36,000 Ohioans.
So what do those falling in the EUC crack left by Congress do in the meantime?
According to the Department of Job and Family Services for the state of Ohio, while they do not know if Congress will vote to extend the program, they advise to continue to file for weekly benefits so they may distribute benefits more quickly should the EUC be extended.
Zach Schiller, research director for Policy Matters Ohio, hopes for retroactive benefits should Congress extend the EUC but for now it really is a waiting game until they reconvene next month.
Cold comfort when put into local perspective, the Miami County unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in October.
There is only one job available for every three applicants, granted this is an improvement from 2009 when there were six applicants per job opening, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.