Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pennsylvania gets extended unemployment insurance benefits

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times

Additional federal unemployment funds available in Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Business Times

Pennsylvania’s insured unemployment rate climbed past 4 percent this month, which will make 13 additional weeks of federally funded emergency unemployment compensation available to those who exhaust benefits, Gov. Ed Rendell announced.

The insured unemployment rate counts only the unemployed who file for benefits. The state’s most recent total unemployment rate reading was 6.7 percent for December.

The additional weeks of emergency compensation will help more than 50,000 people who have exhausted benefits or are about to, the state Department of Labor and Industry reported.

Unemployed workers who exhausted the state’s 26 weeks of benefits were previously eligible for up to 20 additional weeks of federally funded emergency unemployment compensation, but will now be eligible for up to 33 additional weeks of federal benefits. The change was triggered when Pennsylvania’s insured unemployment rate increased to 4.14 percent Jan. 16, passing the threshold required for states to be eligible for the additional 13 weeks of federal benefits, Department of Labor and Industry spokesman David Smith said.

“It’s a key lifeline because now you are talking about winter heating bills too,” Smith said of the potential loss of benefits to 50,000 unemployed state residents. “That’s why these additional 13 weeks are vital to people.

Congress approved 13 additional weeks of federally funded emergency benefits over the summer and another 7 weeks in November, which saved more than 54,000 in Pennsylvania from losing benefits, Smith said. Since July, Pennsylvania has distributed more than $639 million in federal emergency unemployment compensation.

Pennsylvania's nonfarm job count dropped by 27,100 jobs in December and its unemployment rate climbed to 6.7 percent.

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