COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted provided COVID-19 related economic updates on Thursday.
Ohio’s gross domestic product (GDP) outpaced the nation in the final quarter of calendar year 2020. The U.S. GDP is estimated to have grown 4.3 percent in the quarter, and Ohio’s GDP is estimated to have increased 5 percent during the same timeframe, according to DeWine.
Ohio’s unemployment rate in February 2021 was 5 percent and the national rate was 6.2 percent.
Ohio’s tax revenues exceeded the monthly estimate by $41 million, or 2.6 percent, and remain 4.3 percent above the estimate for the fiscal year-to-date. This is a dramatic improvement from one year ago.
These positive developments follow several steps taken by DeWine at the onset of the pandemic to ensure that the state budget remained balanced and stable, including a freeze on state government spending, cuts in state staffing costs, and refinanced state bonds.
“I made these hard choices early on, tightening our belt because we did not know what the future held,” said DeWine. “A strong post-pandemic economy directly depends on defeating the virus, and as we are working hard to vaccinate Ohioans, we are seeing good signs in our economy as well.”
Using federal dollars strategically to shore up Ohio’s unemployment system will also contribute to Ohio’s year of recovery, according to the governor. DeWine recommended to the General Assembly that Ohio use a portion of its federal COVID relief and recovery dollars to pay off the Unemployment Insurance loan owed to the federal government.
“This loan was caused by the global pandemic, and paying it off now will free Ohio employers from this burden so they can instead focus on getting employees across our state back to work,” said DeWine “This will help small businesses owners and employees, and I look forward to working with our partners in the General Assembly on legislation to pay off the loan.”
Ohio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew E. Doehrel spoke positively of the idea.
“The Ohio Chamber of Commerce applauds Gov. DeWine’s announcement today recommending a portion of the state’s federal pandemic relief funds be used to pay off the state’s unemployment compensation loan. Eliminating Ohio’s outstanding federal unemployment loan balance and shoring up the state’s trust fund will prevent employers from facing an estimated tax increase in 2022 of over $100 million and could save employers as much as $658 million in tax increases over a three-year period,” said Doehrel.