According to the morning call Pennsylvania is adding 300 people to work at its unemployment insurance offices and call centers, and plans on hiring another 200 people in the near future as well.
To deal with the influx of claims, the state added about 300 temporary employees to a core staff of 600 employees at its eight regional call centers, including one in Allentown, said David Smith, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor & Industry.
The temporary workers earn a wage of $14.38 an hour. The state's eventual goal is to have around 1,100 temporary and full-time employees available to help the jobless navigate their way through the bureaucracy. Some of the new workers include retired state employees who had previously worked in the call centers.
Last month, the Rendell administration announced that it was keeping the call centers open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. The centers are open daily 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are closed on Saturday. "By expanding the hours and days for the call-in number, we are continuing to find ways to help our citizens get the financial support they need in these times of economic uncertainty," acting Labor & Industry Secretary Sandi Vito said in a written statement.
The fastest way to register for benefits, officials said, is online at the L&I Web page, http://www.dli.state.pa.us. Jobless state residents can also call 1-888-313-7284 to submit their applications for benefits. When they lose their jobs, Pennsylvanians can initially receive up to 26 weeks of state-funded unemployment benefits. After that, they are eligible for up to 33 weeks of federally funded emergency unemployment compensation, Smith said.