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ODJFS still trying to get it right for Ohioans

If you’ve been wondering whether Ohio’s unemployment situation is in the COVID-19 recovery phase, bear in mind the Ohio Controlling Board this week approved more than $11 million for the state Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to contract a Washington, D.C., customer service company to answer questions about unemployment insurance applications and benefits.

That kind of money is meant to hire up to 200 people … who will work for that firm in D.C.

Bryan Stout, legislative liaison for ODJFS, told the Ohio Capital Journal the contract specifies at least 50% of the employees hired should reside in Ohio. He rather optimistically called that “a floor not a ceiling.” But the reality is as many as 100 jobs that could have gone to Ohioans are being handled elsewhere in a contract designed to help ODJFS deal with an increase in the number of calls from unemployed Ohioans.

Brilliant.

“One of the challenges that we continue to deal with and face … is that it’s not just being able to get someone to pick up the phone and say ‘hello,’ but getting someone to have that one-call resolution,” Stout said, a year and a half after the problem began to present itself in the Buckeye State.

Meanwhile, unemployment in the state just keeps creeping back up. It was 5.2% in June and 5.4% in July.

One would think after a steady onslaught since about March 2020, the folks at ODJFS would be well-practiced and have their ducks in a row by now. It turns out, they don’t even have all their ducks in Ohio.

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