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Unemployment continue to be a problem

As another wave of federal stimulus rolls in, checks in personal bank accounts are not the only benefit. State unemployment systems got a much-needed boost, too.

In fact, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says many of the state’s unemployment claimants will soon see the $300 supplemental payments that were part of the stimulus bill. That is, of course, wonderful news for those struggling as the pandemic changed the way we live and work together.

“Ohio stands ready to assist those in need as soon as possible, within the bounds of the new law. Those eligible will receive all benefits to which they are entitled,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Henderson.

But pandemic unemployment benefits and other programs have been extended only through March 13. Then what?

While there is great hope a vaccine will eventually mean our economy can, indeed, come roaring back, the consensus is that sufficient herd immunity through the vaccine will likely not be accomplished until late spring/early summer. If everything goes according to plan.

Even then, there is another problem to consider. Some employers may never return to pre-pandemic staffing levels, and too many employers have already been forced to shut down. It is unlikely the number of jobs available in, say, June or July will come near matching the number of jobs in this country 18 months ago.

Buckeye State lawmakers, education officials, policy makers … all of us should begin now the process of planning for creatively diversifying our economy and training (or retraining) our workforce in a way that prepares them for such a changed jobs landscape. Of course, potential employees will have to be willing to get creative and think outside the way things have always been, too. But it is time, Ohio. We can’t wait to consider this challenge until it is too late.

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