Six of the state’s most influential business organizations sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine last week urging him to reopen the economy as nearly one million Ohioans have now filed unemployment claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“On behalf of our six organizations, and the thousands of Ohio businesses that we collectively represent, we write to you today regarding the dire state of Ohio’s economy and the urgent need to re-open businesses,” states the April 21 letter.
The letter was signed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Ohio Council on Retail Merchants, Ohio Farm Bureau, and NFIB-Ohio.
While the groups applauded DeWine for the steps he has taken thus far, they expressed alarm over the dreadful state of Ohio’s economy. According to the letter, unemployment claims in Ohio will likely exceed one million by the end of the week, many small businesses have less than two weeks left of cash on hand, and the state continues to lose $10-20 billion in GDP for every month the economy operates on essential-only status.
“It is alarming to know that we are losing more jobs per day than were created all of last year. And even if the economy were to open up tomorrow, that devastating trend would continue. Increasingly, small businesses that are closed will never reopen their doors again,” the letter continues.
The state has set May 1 as its target date for reopening, but Gov. DeWine has cautioned that it will be a “gradual, multi-phased process.”
“We cannot look at May 1 as a date that everything will be back to normal. We want to make Ohio’s comeback strong, but we also want to make Ohio’s comeback safe,” DeWine wrote on Twitter Tuesday, the same day the letter was sent.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 21, 2020
It’s likely that customer-facing retail and service businesses, which make up an estimated 43 percent of Ohio’s small businesses, will be closed well past the May 1 date.
Furthermore, the letter warns that the economic consequences from this crisis “will have serious ramifications on the population’s health.”
“Looking at past crises for insight, it is safe to assume we will see an uptick in drug abuse and overdoses, domestic violence, and suicides. Research suggests that rural economies suffer more and recover slower from these economic disruptions,” says the letter.
As The Ohio Star reported, Ohio alone accounts for almost four percent of the nation’s 26 million unemployed. The state saw another 108,801 file for unemployment in the week ending April 18, bringing the total number of unemployed Ohioans to 964,566.
“These statistics, together with anecdotes we hear from our collective membership, provide a compelling case to get our state back to work sooner rather than later,” the letter concludes.
“We have no illusion that things will go back to ‘normal.’ We believe our state is capable of a deliberate, phased opening in a closely controlled manner with strict protocols that enable a responsible reopening where employee and customer safety is first.”
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