Resetting and unrigging Ohio’s economy
Posted September 06, 2020 in Press Releases
State of Working Ohio 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic and recession found an Ohio workforce more productive than ever, but highly vulnerable to financial shock from years of attacks on workplace protections, insufficient funding of the public sector, and other policies that favor the very wealthy and corporations over working people. This year, Policy Matters Ohio’s State of Working Ohio: Reset and Unrig highlights the need for policymakers to take immediate action to alleviate the pain, while also making deeper structural reforms to better prepare us for the next crisis.
The report, embargoed for release until September 4 at 1 p.m., continues to be a lookback, with analysis of key 2019 indicators including Ohioan’s earnings; workforce trends and the latest unemployment numbers; income disparities by race, gender and education level; and the difference a union makes in the lives of working people. But COVID-19 and the recession it caused have remade the Ohio economy so quickly and profoundly that many of the numbers we rely on are out of date. So, this year, along with the latest joblessness data, you’ll find summaries of recent research on COVID-19’s impact on everyone from the frontline workers trying to keep safe to the exhausted parents typing away in makeshift home offices trying to keep their jobs.
Since the pandemic began, Ohio has lost half-a-million jobs, especially in the leisure and hospitality sector, which has lost three times its share of jobs. The recession is most affecting industries that employ higher shares of Black Ohioans and women, including industries that had more job cuts and industries that put workers at higher levels for risk. Black Ohioans are overrepresented among Ohio’s unemployment claimants by a factor of 1.6. Early in the crisis, more women were laid off than men. Those privileged to work from home are more likely than men to assume additional unpaid caregiving work that could permanently disrupt their careers.
“The economic fate of Ohioans has been separating along the fault lines of wealth, privilege and race for generations,” Policy Matters Researcher and report author, Michael Shields said. “Before the pandemic hit, Ohio’s working people were creating record amounts of wealth, but much of the growth was captured by the top. Our leaders need to help working people keep food on their tables and roofs over their heads today. In the long term, policymakers must unrig the economy to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy and corporations.”
Key short-term recommendations include:
- Federal leaders pass a COVID aid package that restores the now-expired $600 weekly supplement to state unemployment benefits, better supports the child care industry and boosts support for health care.
- State leaders support working Ohioans by tapping the rainy day fund, spending unused federal money, closing special-interest tax breaks and rolling back tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Ohioans.
Key long-term recommendations include:
- Redirecting public resources to end giveaways for the wealthy and corporations, and direct public assets toward building strong, healthy communities.
- Raising Ohio’s minimum wage to $15/hour
- Better funding Ohio’s system to protect working people from having their wages stolen by employers.
- State and federal policies that protect and encourage working people’s right to speak up together by forming unions.