MOUNT VERNON — In his weekly update with the Knox County Board of Commissioners, Roger Shooter, Department of Job & Family Services director, had news of a grim new record to share.
Shooter said that according to staffer Diana Williams at the Opportunity Knox employment center, the resources room set a new record Sept. 29. At the peak of activity that day, 145 individuals were counted using the facilities to search for work, more than ever before using the facility’s job search tools.
“Diana had a memorable comment about what they’re hearing from unemployed people,” Shooter said. “She said, ‘We are drowning in sad stories.’”
Shooter expressed concern that much of the federal stimulus money the DJFS has received has given training to unemployed workers for non-existent jobs.
Shooter drew the commissioners’ attention to recent media coverage of the phenomenon that has been dubbed “corporate welfare,” where the largest employers in the state of Ohio are massive corporations which employ people part-time and/or with limited benefits. This, he said, often means those employees continue to require public assistance, despite the much-vaunted welfare reforms of recent years. He said that according to the Ohio Job & Family Services office, the top five employers with workers receiving Medicaid are Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Kroger and Bob Evans.
Shooter said Knox County’s Medicaid expenditures, which were $93 million in 2008, will almost certainly break $100 million this year.
“And the federal government keeps passing on more of the cost,” said Commissioner Teresa Bemiller.