Trump unemployment bonus likely won’t arrive for weeks

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By Staff Report

President Donald Trump made national news when he signed an executive order bypassing congress to return a partial bonus to those on unemployment.

As both initial and continued unemployment claims in Muskingum County continue to ever so slightly slope downward, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said to not expect the bonus payment anytime soon.

During his now twice-weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, DeWine said it could take weeks to implement the new bonus into Ohio’s existing unemployment system.

Likely a bonus payment won’t be issued until at least next month the governor told reporters.

Trump’s executive order creates the path for states to provide $400 dollars weekly on top of each state’s unemployment payment, but many states, including Ohio, are facing fiscal shortfalls.

DeWine was one of the first governors to speak publically on the matter with CNN, saying that the state of Ohio would very likely not be able to match the required $100 dollars from the $300 dollar federal portion.

Trump quickly changed course after DeWine’s comments saying states that couldn’t afford the state matching portion could still act as a passthrough and ensure that their citizens on unemployment receive the $300 dollar federal unemployment bonus.

The state’s unemployment system is run on a 2004 COBOL Mainframe, which severely limits even the most simplest of alterations to payments.

Ohio isn’t alone as many states have outdated unemployment software and hardware programs.

Some states such as Florida have been accused of intentionally designing complex and burdensome systems to prevent those on unemployment from easily receiving payments.

One such reason that the United States Congress eventually agreed to the original $600 dollar weekly bonus in the first place was that many state systems could not be programmed to match a worker’s former pay or cap former workers’ unemployment payout to a certain percentage of their former pay.

When Ohio’s system is finally able to process the payments, it may be too late, with those who desperately need the money to make rent, buy gas, purchase food or pay utilities left choosing and prioritizing.

Recipients will also find themselves with potentially thousands of dollars in back payments when the system fully comes online.

For the week ending Saturday, August 8, Muskingum County had 137 initial unemployment claims, the lowest since March 14 and 1,984 continued claims, the lowest since March 28, which primarily was due to the surge in the state’s unemployment claims and the weeks-long process for individuals to get approved.

The county is currently at its lowest total claims since the week ending Saturday, March 21, when the initial state-ordered shutdowns began.

Muskingum County is arguably better insulated from the economic effects of a recession as a larger percentage of its workforce works in the healthcare industry.

Its manufacturing & distribution sectors have seen an increased need for additional space resulting in both Dollar General and Kellogg’s planning expansions in the near future.