HARRISBURG, Nov. 6 – State Rep. Marc Gergely lauded President Obama for signing federal legislation today that will provide up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to jobless workers.
Gergely is the architect of state legislation that was enacted in September that provided seven additional weeks of benefits.
"This important action means many Pennsylvania families that are struggling to find work will have access to a total of 99 weeks of state and federal unemployment compensation benefits," Gergely said. "On the state level, it builds on the change to the law that I sponsored which extended benefits for seven additional weeks to 79 weeks using federal dollars."
Gergely said the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 8.8 percent in September means Pennsylvania is automatically eligible for the additional 20 weeks of benefits for a total of 99 weeks. Under the federal legislation, all states receive 14 more weeks and states with unemployment rates above 8.5 percent will receive 6 additional weeks of benefits on top of that.
"Extending this critical safety net helps thousands of Pennsylvania families who have exhausted their benefits or are close to having their modest unemployment compensation checks come to an end. Hard-working people who are trying to find work will be able to pay their mortgage or rent, feed their children and live with dignity."
Gergely said that in Pennsylvania, regular unemployment compensation benefits are available for 26 weeks, but about one-third of the nation's unemployed have been out of work for a longer period.
"The global economic downturn continues to make it difficult for many workers to find employment, so Congress and the states have appropriately responded by extending emergency federal unemployment compensation benefits several times in the past few months."
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will contact unemployed people who are eligible for the extended benefits directly by mail. More information about unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania is available on the department's Web site at www.dli.state.pa.us.