Think tank supports appeal of unemployment benefit cutoff

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

COLUMBUS — An appeal brought by unemployed Ohio workers seeking to reinstate the federal $300-a-week unemployment benefit cut off by Gov. Mike DeWine should be granted, according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by Policy Matters Ohio and national leaders in legal and public advocacy for an equitable economy.

“There is no justification for terminating Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) early,” Hannah Halbert, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio and counsel for the parties filing the amicus brief at the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals in Franklin County, said.
Gov. DeWine’s decision ‘runs counter to the public interest, and creates economic harm for thousands of Ohioans, particularly low-income and gig-workers, Black workers, women workers, and those living in areas of the state, like Appalachian Ohio, who continue to experience higher rates of unemployment and low rates of job growth,” the brief states.

The court will hold a hearing today on the appeal, brought after Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook turned down a request for a temporary restraining order to reinstate the federal benefits.

Besides Policy Matters, those filing the brief include the American Sustainable Business Council, the leading business organization serving the public policy interests of responsible companies; the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit law and research organization that has advocated for the employment rights of unemployed workers for over 50 years; Professor William E. Spriggs of Howard University, a leading expert on U.S. social insurance programs and the implications for racial equity; the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization with over 30 years’ experience analyzing the effects of economic policy on the lives of America’s working families, and Andrew Stettner of the Century Foundation, an expert in policy research on U.S. social insurance programs.

Halbert’s brief argues that the benefits have played “an important role in keeping the economy afloat — and the withdrawal of these dollars conversely will hurt Ohio businesses, which will not see the spending that would have resulted, and the Ohio economy.”

The brief cites research and data showing that cutting unemployment is not translating into employment and the reasons some employers may have trouble attracting workers include child care access and the continuing pandemic, not FPUC benefits.

“There is little to no basis for ending FPUC that aligns with the public interest. Ohio has not yet recovered, and the health emergency persists according to public health data,” the brief says.