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Demand for workers up in Ohio as new report shows fewer jobs than before pandemic

According to findings from new research released Monday by Policy Matters Ohio, as of July Ohio had 239,000 fewer jobs than before the pandemic.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Now hiring signs are just about everywhere you look.

Here in central Ohio, from the Columbus Zoo to COTA, all different industries are seeing the need.

"One great thing about both of our properties this year is we have made some adjustments to our pay rates like so many other businesses,” said Anthony Sabo, the zoo’s vice president of waterpark operations and guest services.

On Wednesday the zoo is holding an open interview event from 1 to 3 p.m., hoping to make some progress in the effort to fill more than 350 open positions right now.

Most are for seasonal jobs like when Zoombezi Bay transforms to Zombiezi Bay.

"However those are positions that can stay on through Wild Lights and into the winter at the zoo as well,” he said.

Meanwhile for COTA, there's a need for more bus drivers.

"We had about 700 operators before the pandemic and now we have about 637,” said Jeff Pullin, COTA's media relations manager. "We need about 50 more operators to continue growing our service."

There's hope that now federal pandemic unemployment help has expired -- more people will get back into the workforce.

But according to findings from new research released Monday by Policy Matters Ohio, as of July Ohio had 239,000 fewer jobs than before the pandemic.

"A lot of people are still really struggling in Ohio and policy makers need to keep their eye on that,” said Michael Shields, a researcher with the nonprofit policy research institute.

Shields said his research shows the pandemic is creating challenges that prevent people from working, particularly women.

"That's in part because they were especially concentrated in the industries that laid off a lot of folks but also a lot of women have had to step back from the workforce to take on more caregiving responsibilities,” he said.

According to the latest numbers from the state, as of July 31, more than 85,000 Ohioans were receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and more than 200,000 were receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

In Ohio, those programs expired Saturday, Sept. 4

For millions more across the country, those programs expired Monday, Sept. 6.

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