September 1, 2014

Elyria
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County agency braces for needy new year

December and January are expected to be busy for workers at the Lorain County Department of Job and Family Services.

That’s because more than 5,000 people are expected to drop off the unemployment benefit rolls, agency officials said Monday, and those people are expected to seek help from the agency in the form of cash assistance and food stamps if they have children.

In preparation, the agency has limited how many workers can take off at a time in any particular area, said the agency’s director, Mary Lou Golski.

The agency expects 3,022 people to lose benefits in December and 2,005 to lose benefits in January, according to Sandy Moraco, program administrator.

There was also a spike in requests for help in December, 2010, when 3,532 people lost benefits and in January 2011 when 2,175 lost benefits, according to Moraco.

She urged people to go to www.lcdjfs.com, where online applications are available.

“It saves standing in line,” Moraco said, adding that people can report changes in their status and also file interim reports every six months.

A drop in the state unemployment rate triggered a drop in the maximum length of unemployment benefits in September. People are now eligible for up to 63 weeks of unemployment checks.

Because Ohio’s unemployment rate has dropped from 10.6 percent at the height of the recession to under 7 percent, the maximum allowable weeks of unemployment compensation have decreased. Prior to April, claimants were eligible for up to 99 weeks of compensation.

Ohio’s economy is moving in the right direction, but it is uncertain whether there will be any extensions of unemployment benefits because of discussions to resolve the “fiscal cliff” budget crisis, according to Allison Preiss, press secretary to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon.

“Unemployment insurance protects Ohioans and their families when their jobs are eliminated,” Preiss said. “Sen. Brown supports an extension of unemployment insurance and also recognizes that most Americans would rather be collecting a paycheck — which is why he’s fighting to ensure that any ‘fiscal cliff’ agreement does not undermine economic growth and job creation.”

Regardless of the unemployment rate, the federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which was tied to the rate, is scheduled to expire Dec. 29.

Ohioans with questions about their unemployment claim should call (877) OHIO-JOB.

Those struggling to find work are also strongly encouraged to visit a One-Stop Center for help with resume development, career planning, job search skills and more. To find the One-Stop nearest you, call (877) US2JOBS.

In addition, www.ohioheretohelp.gov offers resources for unemployed workers in Ohio, such as job search assistance and information about a wide variety of services related to money, food, housing and other topics. Ohioans also can apply for cash assistance, food assistance or Medicaid online at https://odjfsbenefits.ohio.gov.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.