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Pennsylvania unemployed workers to receive more benefits


August 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania unemployed workers to receive more benefits


REGION, August 4th- The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that would tap federal stimulus dollars to extend benefits by seven more weeks for a total of 79 weeks for workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

“This is tremendous news for 25, 430 people who had their benefits expire in July and the 60,000 people who will be affected before the end of the year. Thousands of families will get seven more weeks of benefits while they continue to look for new employment in this challenging job market,” said Representative Marc Gergely (Democrat, Allegheny), who authorized the legislation.

The average weekly unemployment payment in the state is $305.00, regardless of family size, or $15,860 per year. The figure is $6,190.00 below the federal poverty guidelines for a family of four.

Pennsylvania lost nearly 180,000 jobs since the nationwide recession began in December 2007. According to the Department of Labor and Industry, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June was 8.3 percent in Pennsylvania, unchanged from the previous month. The rate is up 3 full percentage points from this time last year.

Mr. Gergely’s legislation would temporarily switch the mechanism Pennsylvania uses to trigger extended unemployment benefits from the current insured unemployment rate, (the percentage of workers covered under the unemployment law who are out of work), to the total unemployment rate (the percentage of all workers in Pennsylvania who are out of work).

Under the stimulus law, the federal government will cover the cost of providing the seven additional weeks of unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania. Governor Edward Rendell will sign the legislation.

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