CLEVELAND — Ohio Job and Family Services announced state unemployment skyrocketed to 16.8% in the month of April, a 44-year high, up from 5.8% in March.
The sobering numbers related to severe coronavirus economic impact included a prolific increase in the number of workers unemployed in Ohio, with 957,000 jobless in April—up 623,000 from 334,000 in March.
The number of unemployed has increased by 721,000 in the past 12 months from 236,000.
Norman Lange, a former chartered financial analyst who worked with both Key and Huntington Banks, said the economic shock waves created by record levels of Ohio unemployment are just getting started.
“You have people not being able to pay their mortgages, defaulting on their credit cards, and this ripples through the entire system," Lange said. “When your're 25 to 54, you should be in the workforce. The economy is vulnerable because everybody has too much debt, whether it’s consumers, whether it’s corporations, whether it’s the government.”
Jim Rokakis, former Cuyahoga County Treasurer, said with a projected 40% of families living pay-to-pay, it's important these families set up an emergency budget and cut all unessential goods and services over the next 12 months.
Rokakis said even though many Ohio business sectors are getting back to work, he believes it will be a slow economic recovery here in Northeast Ohio.
“Let’s see how many people are late on property tax payments this summer, let’s see how many are late or don’t make a payment next January. This is unprecedented,” Rokakis said. “We are a long way from, in effect, solving this problem. The ripple effect will be big, let's say, you work for a restaurant, or you work for a company that supplies restaurants, or you work for a company that depends on a functioning automotive industry, which is shutdown. I don’t think consumer confidence is back. I don’t think people are going to leave their homes, I think they’re going to be cautious and I think it’s going to affect a wide range of industries.”
Rokakis said cities throughout Northeast Ohio are facing big losses in tax revenue, due to record unemployment and tourism grinding to halt.
Rokakis believes many cities will have to make significant cuts in crucial services.
“A federal package to backstop, state, county and local governments is critical," Rokakis said. "You can’t get to resolving that deficit unless you cut to the bone, and cutting to the bone in local government is police, fire and EMS.”