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Category Archives: News

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

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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Department of Community & Economic Development: New funding available for technology-based companies

Text of April 23 press release.

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that new funding is available to help technology-based companies impacted by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

“DCED remains committed to identifying new resources that can support Pennsylvania’s businesses during this unprecedented time,” said Sec. Davin. “Our tech companies have been stepping up to provide us with innovative ways to produce personal protective equipment and other supplies, and we must make sure they remain in a position to provide those critical services and ideas in our response to this pandemic.”

The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) today approved the disbursement of $1 million in funding to each of the four Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), which will then match that funding with $1 million. The funds will be delivered to each BFTP through a Technology Development grant. The BFTP will identify eligible projects and will provide capital to existing startup clients experiencing hardships due to the impact of COVID-19.

Additionally, Venture Capital Revolving Loan Account funds can be used to make loans to venture capital funds that invest in technology companies in Pennsylvania. The funds will be delivered through loans to existing venture capital firms in the BFTDA portfolio in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $1 million. To deploy capital quickly, BFTDA venture managers will be required to identify specific COVID-19 impacted companies that, by way of the BFTDA capital infusion, will have an opportunity to remain in operation through this economic downturn.

Finally, DCED also announced that Manufacturing Innovation Program […]

More than 1.5 million unemployment claims filed in Pa. as jobless numbers continue to climb

The number of Pennsylvanians filing unemployment claims continues to climb.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said that the state had surpassed 1.5 million unemployment claims filed since March 15, when the state rolled out coronavirus mitigation efforts.

By contrast, in the three weeks prior to March 13, the state logged 40,000 new unemployment claims.

The state also logged 976 new workers compensation claims. Oleksiak said that about 302 of those appeared to be related to workers in the health care, first responder or law enforcement sectors – and all are related to COVID-19.

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Face masks are now mandatory in Pa.: We’ve unpacked the order requiring everyone to wear one

To mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this month recommended that all Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes.

A new order issued Wednesday makes that mandatory for anyone working or shopping at grocery stores and pharmacies. The order zeroes in on the safety of workers and customers at essential businesses.

The order issued by Wolf and Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of the Department of Health, goes into effect Sunday amid escalating numbers of coronavirus cases.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 1,245 new coronavirus cases, raising the statewide total to 27,735. At least 707 people have died due to the virus, including 60 new deaths reported today,

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Crush of unemployment claims straining unemployment system

HARRISBURG — State Department of Labor officials said the “sheer volume” of more than 1 million first-time jobless has led to delays of up to three weeks for some people to get the personal identification numbers that allow them to submit their weekly claims for unemployment benefits.

Secretary of Labor and Industry Jerry Oleksiak said that the state has received 1.3 million jobless claims since Gov. Tom Wolf shut down non-essential businesses in March.

Susan Dickinson, director of unemployment policy for the Department of Labor and Industry said then when people have had questions about their claims, it’s been taking the department 15 days to respond to emails, even though that’s the method the agency has been advising people to use to get questions answered.

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Oleksiak said he understands that people awaiting help are getting angered by the delays.

“We want to get benefits to them as quickly as we can,” he said. “We are frustrated too.”

PA Workforce Development Association