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Portman Claims Increased Unemployment Benefits Are Keeping People From Working

In this April 16, 2018 file photo, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference at a Kroger supermarket as the company announces new associate benefits attributed to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo
Associated Press

Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senator is urging the state to stop providing the $300 weekly federal checks to unemployed Ohioans, which will stop coming September 6 unless another COVID relief package extends them. 

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Cincinnati) said there are good jobs available but says many Ohioans won’t work because the federal jobless benefits are too generous.  

“They are making more in unemployment insurance than they are on the jobs. On top of that, Congress recently passed legislation of that would be tax-free which gives those on unemployment insurance an additional advantage," Portman said.

Washington Post financial columnist Michelle Singletary told NPR's Morning Edition that there is no data to support this claim.

"There is no credible studies that show that people are more likely to not search for a job if they get enhanced benefits, in fact, just the opposite. The Chicago Federal Reserve found that those receiving those amped-up benefits were twice as likely to look for a job than those who exhausted their benefits," Singletary said.

Instead of the $300 weekly payments, the senator said Ohio should give people who take jobs a $600 signing bonus instead. The signing bonus would be paid out in $100 over six weeks on the job.

Ohio has reinstated the requirement that unemployed Ohioans getting benefits prove they’re looking for work starting May 23.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.