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Category Archives: News

Workforce development news from Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Massive unemployment scam strikes up to 58,000 people in Pa., far more than previously known

HARRISBURG — Mike Consevage came home from work the Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend to find two unemployment checks sitting on his kitchen table with his mail.

Consevage, a Harrisburg-based pediatric cardiologist for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, immediately knew something was wrong:

He is employed and never filed for unemployment.

“I said, ‘This had to be a mistake,’” Consevage said in an interview. “So I called my business manager and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ [The business manager] said, ‘That’s funny, another physician had just gotten a similar set of checks.’”

Consevage appears to be the victim of an elaborate, multi-state scheme to steal people’s identities, fraudulently file for unemployment programs, and then route the money to their own bank accounts, intercept paper checks, or deceive unknowing recipients into turning them over.

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Why Networked Communities are the Key to Recovery

It’s a truth the COVID-19 crisis has made abundantly clear; our health, our jobs and livelihoods are all inextricably linked. As the virus deals a blow to the complex and invisible web that connects us, we feel it in unexpected ways — bare grocery store shelves, idle manufacturing plants, empty college parking lots, and hospitals simultaneously overwhelmed and financially strapped. Leave it to an invisible virus to make visible the networks that underpin our daily lives. They’ve always been there; we just haven’t always noticed them.

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Pa. officials warn of scams targeting unemployment benefit recipients during coronavirus pandemic

Scammers are getting away with using Social Security numbers and other identifying information belonging to identity theft victims to commit unemployment compensation fraud, officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry warn.

“Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania is not seeing a large increase in unemployment scams since COVID-19 mitigation efforts began,” Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said. “We are working with our partner agencies to keep a close eye on the situation.”

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State’s new unemployment claims continue to drop as restrictions ease

HARRISBURG – The number of people filing unemployment claims in the week ending May 17 dropped below 62,000 for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic prompted the state to close nonessential businesses statewide.

State Labor and Industry data shows the number of claims has dropped to  61,864 in the period.

That’s fewer new claims in the entire week than the state had each day in the initial period after the shutdown’s impact rippled across the state.

 

On March 20, 90,000 people filed claims for unemployment. In one week in late March, the number of new claims topped 400,000.

The drop in new claims comes as the state has begun relaxing those restrictions across much of the state.

In a press call with reporters on Monday, Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said the number of claims, though declining, are still significant. In the weeks ending May 10, the number of claims was 65,000.

Oleksiak said the number of recent claims is “a tremendously high number, given that the state had been working with before the pandemic mitigation efforts went into effect.”

 

The state has received close to 1.9 million initial claims through the traditional unemployment program and another 266,000 claims for assistance through the stimulus-funded program to provide benefits to self-employed people and independent contractors, he said.

About 76% of the people who filed initial claims were approved, said Susan Dickinson, director of the state Office of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.

The remaining 24% include both people whose claims are pending and those who may […]

Department of Labor & Industry: Pennsylvania launches program for people who exhaust their unemployment compensation benefits.

ext of May 17 media advisory.

Provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits.

More than $7.9 billion in total unemployment benefits paid since mid-March.

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today announced the launch of Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program to provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who exhaust their regular unemployment compensation (UC).

PEUC is included in the new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Pennsylvania has implemented all programs under the new CARES Act and paid out nearly $7.4 billion in total unemployment benefits since mid-March.

Important information about the extended benefits program follows and has also been emailed or mailed via the United States Postal Service to all individuals who potentially qualify for PEUC.

Eligibility

You are eligible for PEUC if you:

• Are unemployed between March 29 through December 26, 2020;
• Have exhausted your regular state or federal benefits with week ending July 6, 2019 or later;
• Are currently not eligible for state or federal unemployment benefits; and
• Are able and available to work and actively seeking work, except for COVID-19-related reasons including illness, quarantine, or “stay at home” orders.

How to Receive PEUC

• If you have an open UC claim but exhausted all of your benefits, the 13 additional weeks will automatically be added to your existing claim. Log in this week to file biweekly claims for prior weeks, back through the week ending April 4 (if applicable).
• If […]

Your View: Finding Pennsylvania jobs in a post-coronavirus world

Elizabeth Dodson was working toward her customer service certification from the Pennsylvania CareerLink Lehigh Valley when the coronavirus hit; Gov. Wolf issued his first stay-at-home order as she was scheduling her first job interviews.

Happily, Dodson landed a job anyway, starting April 6 as an inventory control specialist at McKesson Medical-Surgical in Bethlehem and is now earning a family-sustaining wage.

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PA officials looking at securing federal loan to bolster state Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

Pennsylvania is looking to obtain a federal loan to help bolster the UC Trust Fund now facing unprecedented jobless claims due resulting from job layoffs due to the pandemic, said Jerry Oleksiak, secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry, on Monday in a conference call with reporters.

It’s a far cry from the UC Trust Fund’s fiscal situation before the pandemic, the secretary said. The fund was on track to become solvent this summer having completed the repayment of Pennsylvania’s UC bond debt last Jan. 1, he added.

“The trust fund will be impacted,” said Oleksiak referring to a wave of UC payments to claimants since mid-March when Pennsylvania shut down all but “essential” business activity due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Since March 15, Labor and Industry has made nearly 9 million payments to claimants to cover nearly $4 billion in jobless benefits from the regular state UC program.

The UC Trust Fund is considered solvent when its level reaches two and a half times (or 250 percent) the average annual benefit payout over the last three years.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced last January that Pennsylvania had repaid its UC bond debt as of Jan. 1. A 2012 state law provided for refinancing of Pennsylvania’s federal UC loans through the sale of bonds to get a lower interest rate.

Under federal law, states are required to pay UC benefits promptly as provided for under their own laws. States can obtain loans through the federal Unemployment […]

Department of Aging: Pennsylvania receives $34 million to provide essential services to older adults

Harrisburg, PA — As part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, Pennsylvania has received $34 million to support services authorized by the Older Americans Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. These services include home-delivered meals; in-home care services; respite care and other support to families and caregivers; and information and referral services.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a total of $955 million for states in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL). These funds help to meet the increasing needs of older adults and people with disabilities, during this pandemic, so that they can remain safe, independent and healthy.

“This new funding will help the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) support older adults,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “These funds will go directly toward helping provide support services on the front lines of this crisis such as delivering meals, advocating for older adults in residential facilities and providing other essential services, such as protective services.”

“Since this crisis began in Pennsylvania, we’ve seen the need for services like meal delivery increase as senior centers and adult day centers had to close temporarily. This increase in demand and change in service delivery have increased costs to the AAAs and their service providers,” said Sec. Torres. “This support from HHS is most welcome and needed.”

CARES Act funding for Pennsylvania’s seniors includes:

• $8.5 million […]

Hackett resigns from Pa. workforce board, blasts Wolf over recent comments

WILKES-BARRE — State Sen. John Yudichak on Friday said business leaders like Chris Hackett, CEO of i2M in Mountain Top, and union leaders who represent essential workers, should have been part of the crisis response team from day one on how the Commonwealth can best protect the safety of employees in manufacturing facilities across Pennsylvania.

Yudichak’s comments come after Hackett resigned from the Workforce Development Board, the governor’s private sector policy advisor on building a strong workforce development system aligned with state education and economic development goals.

Hackett’s letter of resignation to Gov. Tom Wolf was dated April 23. Hackett was appointed to the board in 2016.

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Will Pennsylvania Run Out Of Unemployment Money?

Since March 15, nearly 1.6 million Pennsylvanians have filed for traditional unemployment compensation. Thousands more have applied for help under a new federal program for self-employed and contract workers. But the unprecedented volume of applications may still not reflect the true number of people in need.

Melinda Reich worked as a prep cook at Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 on Pittsburgh’s North Side until coronavirus shut the restaurant down. Things financially were already tight: her hours dropped at the end of football season and baseball wouldn’t start until April 1st. But Reich had prepared for that.

“You have to set yourself up for it,” she said. “You know you’re going to be slow, so you have to put money away.”

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PA Workforce Development Association