Thursday, February 28, 2013

Legislation Aimed at Getting Ohioans Back to Work

Guest Column from State Representative Jim Buchy

Since JobsOhio was signed into law two years ago, businesses have had more confidence to invest and expand, resulting in the creation of more than 120,000 Ohio jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen by nearly 2.5 percent, and with the national unemployment rate increasing last month, Ohio’s rate now stands more than a point lower than the national average.

In Mercer and neighboring counties, we have the lowest unemployment rate in Ohio thanks in large part to a robust agriculture industry. Yet, small businesses in the area, as in much of the state, are being squeezed by the high costs of unemployment insurance.

We must not let up on our pursuit to create more jobs in Ohio, which includes finding ways to help the unemployed get back to work. Just as JobsOhio made it clear early on in the previous General Assembly that we are serious about jobs, the first two bills introduced this year are also focused on job creation.

House Bill 1 seeks to bring uniformity to Ohio’s workforce centers and job-search resources. The bill uses Ohio’s official job-search engine—“Ohio Means Jobs”—and applies its name to workforce centers in every county across the state. That way, anyone who is unemployed and looking for a job will know immediately where to look, rather than having to navigate a patchwork of different resources.

House Bill 2 also is aimed at getting more people back to work by making it easier for jobseekers to take advantage of potential job opportunities. First, before a person applies for unemployment insurance, he or she must register with the “Ohio Means Jobs” website. From there, he or she will receive weekly notices of job openings that can easily put him in contact with employers.

Second, by the eighth week of receiving unemployment benefits, applicants will be required to make direct contact with their “Ohio Means Jobs” office. This will ensure that applicants are making the most of their job search opportunities and, ultimately, gaining employment once again.

Ronald Reagan once said, “The best possible social program is a job.” There are obviously times when people are down on their luck and need help. But it is in everyone’s best interest for these occurrences to be rare and short-lived. By promoting the importance and dignity of hard work, we can help make sure that our state and nation continue to be a global leader in productivity and innovation.

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