COLUMBUS -- Continued applications for unemployment benefits have declined for the ninth straight week, according to the Ohio Dept. of Job & Family Services.

Those who remain jobless filed 332,681 fewer continued claims last week compared to the peak in April duing COVID-19.

In addition, for the week ending June 27, ODJFS reported 35,623 initial jobless claims to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. The total number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 15 weeks (1,430,807) is more than the combined total of those filed during the last three years.

Over the last 15 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $4.7 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 728,000 Ohioans.

Of the more than 1 million applications the agency has received, more than 94% have been processed, with less than 6 percent pending. In addition, ODJFS has issued more than $3.4 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to more than 378,000 PUA claimants.

According to ODJFS, Richland County had the eighth-highest unemployment rate in the state at 15.6 percent.

Among the state’s 88 counties, preliminary May 2020 unemployment rates ranged from a low of 5.1 percent in Holmes County to a high of 19.9 percent in Erie County.

From April, unemployment rates decreased in all 88 counties. The comparable unemployment rate for Ohio was 13.4 percent percent in May.

Ten counties had unemployment rates below 10.0 percent in May. The counties with the lowest rates, other than Holmes were: Delaware, 8.4 percent; Union, 8.8 percent; Athens and Mercer, 9.0 percent; Wayne, 9.2 percent; Knox, 9.3 percent; Madison, 9.5 percent; Ashland, 9.6 percent; and Greene, 9.9 percent.

Six counties had unemployment rates above 16  percent in May. The counties with the highest rates, other than Erie were: Lorain, 18.8 percent; Lucas, 18.7 percent; Crawford, 18.4 percent; Cuyahoga, 17.9 percent; and Trumbull, 16.3 percent.

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