Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unemployment rates hit 16 year high, compensation benefits extended

The recently released report from the Department of Labor shows that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has risen to 7.8%, which is the highest it has been since September of 1992. The number of workers filing for unemployment compensation rose 13,000 to 499,000. While Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation claim figures are not as dire as New Jersey's, 8.3%, or the national rate of 8.5%, they are still bleak enough to qualify the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Extended Unemployment Benefit coverage which allows residents to qualify for an additional 13 to 46 weeks of unemployment compensation.

It is important that families are ensuring that they are receiving the maximum benefits to cover their needs. If you feel that you have been denied unemployment or workers compensation unfairly, then you should contact our experienced team of lawyers. There are also additional tools available to residents of the Commonwealth who are looking for assistance, or a new beginning. Recently, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has launched a website to assist the unemployed in their job search. Also, Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is pushing for a new law that aims to pay community colleges nationwide $1,000 per student to retrain laid-off workers. Casey's bill would set up the Unemployment Tuition Assistance Program as part of the Department of Labor (DOL). People filing for unemployment benefits would be notified that tuition assistance may be available to them, and colleges that volunteer to participate would register with DOL for reimbursement, which Casey says would come from existing funds already allocated to job retraining in the department's budget.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Updates on Unemployment in Pennsylvania

With the past month's unemployment figures for Pennsylvania not yet released, it is of note that New Jersey's has risen to 8.3%. While Pennsylvania is still below the national average, the rates have continued to climb in recent months. Of historical note, long time area employers Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen L.L.P, and Northeastern hospital in Port Richmond closed recently.

Every part of the Philadelphia metropolitan area is affected, with equally tough times in Philadelphia and in New Jersey's rural Salem County on the edge of the metro market. One in five of the region's jobs are in Camden, Gloucester and Burlington Counties, but in one year, those same counties have lost a disproportionate share of the work -- nearly 31 percent. Mark Zandi at Moody's expects the national unemployment rate to be as high as 9.8 percent by this time next year, with this region's rate not far behind. The dire economic environment has bankrupted unemployment programs locally, forcing them to borrow federal funds.

In the world of Unemployment Benefits in the state of Pennsylvania, there is some good news for those struggling to find employment. The state has extended unemployment benefits. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as Stimulus 2009, there will be a few changed to extended unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania. One of the qualifiers for this program is that the state's unemployment race must be over 7%, which it has. This program offers up to an additional 13 weeks of extended unemployment compensation benefits to those who are qualified and have exhausted all rights and balances on regular or Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The benefits are only payable as long as the state remains in a high unemployment rate. When the unemployment rate decreases as more individuals find work, the Extended Benefit Period will end.

You can watch the growth of unemployment by county in Pennsylvania since the start of the recession on the by clicking on this link

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Unemployment Tools and Considerations for people of Pennsylvania

According to this recent article in the Reading Eagle, unemployment in Berk's County rose to 8.4 percent in the month of February, which is up a full percentage point from the January figures and is the highest recorded unemployment mark for that county since August 1983. The figures, release by the state Department of Labor and Industry, show that the state of Pennsylvania's jobless rate has increased 3.1 percentage points to 7.5 percent overall since February of 2008. With that increase, Berks county now has the third highest unemployment rate of the state's 14 major markets. The total number of Berks residents without jobs as of February was 17,300 which is an increase of 2,000 from the previous month and is 8,000 higher than a year ago at this time. The only areas with higher unemployment totals are the two tied at the top, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport.

Since this is a rising cause for concern to so many locally, we'd like to cover a few recent topics regarding these issues and perhaps provide a few tools that you may find helpful to you.

A controversial topic has risen lately with how the unemployed are forced to use their unemployment compensation. People receiving unemployment compensation benefits are forced to use an 'unemployment benefit card', which is similar to a debit card. On the surface that seems harmless and effortless enough, except that recipients are now being charged bank fees to use those cards. This effectively reduces the amount of money that the people are able to receive in unemployment compensation, or child support for that matter.

With some employers facing tough decisions regarding layoffs in the coming weeks, there are some additional considerations that they are to consider regarding the cost of laying off employees. The funding for Unemployment Compensation comes from a tax that employers pay into the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund. As mentioned in this article, "in the Mid-Atlantic region, federal and state unemployment compensation costs employers an average 25 cents per hour per employee, or 0.12 percent of total payroll." The laying off of employees can prove to be more expensive than one might believe because the government assesses businesses based on the number and frequency of job reductions. Despite business struggles, the bottom line is that it may well be cheaper in the long run to retain employees so as to avoid an increase in cost for Unemployment Compensation insurance.

We've also come across a few articles that may serve as beneficial tools for you. If you click the link here, you will be taken to a brief breakdown on how to file for unemployment compensation. At this link here, there is a nice article on a family surviving on a severance package.

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