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Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Region’s unemployment rate decreases to 9.4 percent

01.27.11

FEBRUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Region’s unemployment rate decreases to 9.4 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.5 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area has the third highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.7 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 9.5 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.6 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 547,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but that number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,362,000 and 5,815,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 9.8 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

There are 15,119,000 residents nationally unemployed but counting workers that have exhausted their benefits or have been unable to find full-time work there are more than 20 million Americans without jobs. After workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted as unemployed unless they continue to apply for work.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.9 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.2 percent and the Altoona MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.5 percent.

Northampton County has the lowest rate in the MSA at 9.3 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 151,200. There are 14,100 Northampton County residents without jobs, decreasing by 300 from the previous report and unchanged from twelve months ago.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.9 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,200 with 3,400 residents without jobs, decreasing by 100 from the previous report and decreasing by 100 from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County’s unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 176,100. There are 16,800 Lehigh County residents without jobs, decreasing by 600 from the previous report and dropping by 200 during the past twelve months.

According to the data, nonfarms jobs in the MSA have increased by 1,700 during the past twelve months to 334,200.

Government Accountability Office releases report on Employee Verification System

01.27.11

FEBRUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Government Accountability Office releases report on Employee Verification System

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 20th- The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their report entitled “Employment Verification: Federal Agencies Have Taken Steps to Improve Employee Verify, but Significant Challenges Remain.”

The report provides a summary of the GAO’s findings regarding where the agencies Verification Division may move to implement modifications to the existing system based upon GAO’s recommendations to ensure accuracy of employees legal status to work in the United States.

The report was conducted to assess how the agencies involved have been able to ensure the accuracy of the verification process and whether either or both have taken measures to combat fraud. Specifically, GAO examined efforts taken by the agencies to:

• reduce tentative nonconfirmations,
• safeguard private information submitted and,
• prepare for the increased use of the program that may result from either increased state and local legislation (executive action) or a federal mandate.

Some of the other findings include:

• Employees are limited in their ability to identify the source of and how to correct information in the databases (including the significant delay in the correction process commonly taking an average of 104 days).
• Long-term cost associated with the administration of the Employee Verify program and complementary national systems and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases do not reliably depict current budgetary allocations for the costs of adminitration.
• Securing sufficient resources to effectively execute the program plans for the future has not been anticipated and may not be properly antipated in budgetary projections.

Notwithstanding the findings, there is a clear message contained in the report. Comprehensive reform is required to root-out the incidence of document fraud. The use of identification/authorization documents is the only likely cure of the ills currently inherent in the system.

Ultimately the report states a great deal of the burden to address the deficiencies of the current verification system will fall to employers.

The international lawfirm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, which specializes in immigration law stated, the current system cannot address the underlying reality that as long as at least 11 million unauthorized employees require employment to survive, a robust market of sophisticated, fraudulent documents will flourish.