Pennsylvania Business Leaders Alert Lawmakers to Prosperity Hindrances

Pennsylvania’s House Republican Policy Committee on Thursday heard testimony from several small-business executives Thursday suggesting that unemployment compensation (UC) taxes among other issues pose major impediments to economic growth in the Keystone State. 

As The Pennsylvania Daily Star reported this week, Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in terms of making up economic ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2022, about 6.17 million Pennsylvanians held jobs, a 2.8-percent rise over the same month one year prior. National employment meanwhile increased 3.7 percent during that time. 

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Unemployment Payments Uncertain as Nine States’ Web Host Hacked

Residents of some states may not get their next unemployment checks on time as a vendor cyberattack has shut down their websites.

The states all do business with Florida-based Geographic Solutions. The company has not posted any information on its social media pages about the cyberattack. A warning page appears when trying to access the company’s webpage.

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Whitmer Signs Bill Giving Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency $140M to Overhaul Agency

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill appropriating nearly $140 million to revamp Michigan’s embattled Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA.)

“This fiscally-responsible, bipartisan bill will lower costs for small businesses and fight waste, fraud, and abuse in our unemployment system,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is the latest step we are taking to fight fraud, hold people accountable, and strengthen the Unemployment Insurance Agency after decades of disinvestment. By making a deposit into the Unemployment Compensation Fund, we can help small businesses balance their books by lowering the costs of unemployment.”

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Connecticut Bill Would Have Employers Pay Unemployment to Strikers

Ned Lamont

If Connecticut’s Democrat-run General Assembly and Governor Ned Lamont (D) approve a bill now before the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees, striking workers will gain the right to collect unemployment.

Current state law does not permit union strikers to collect jobless benefits, as eligibility requires having come into “unemployment through no fault of your own.” The legislation under consideration, sponsored by State Representatives Michael Winkler (D-Vernon), David Michel (D-Stamford) and Robyn Porter (D-Hamden) would, starting this October, allow strikers to get unemployment checks two weeks into a labor walkout.

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Minnesota Senators Pass Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Bill

Eric Pratt of Minnesota

A bill to repay Minnesota’s federal Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund passed the Senate Monday and it will now travel to the House for consideration.

The bill, SF 2677, appropriates $2.3 billion from the state fiscal recovery federal fund and $408.5 million from the fiscal year 2022 general fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development. 

The commissioner would repay the federal government outstanding loans and accrued interest within 10 days of the bill’s enactment. For the 2022 and 2023 calendar years, the base tax rate would be one-tenth of one percent.

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COVID Restrictions’ Impact on Pennsylvania Still Felt, Forecasted to Persist

Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) on Monday issued a report on the state’s economy indicating COVID-era restrictions continue to make a negative impact.

The IFO composed the report to inform lawmakers as they begin a series of state budget hearings this week. The agency observes that the Keystone State’s labor-force-participation rate is at its lowest in 37 years and forecasts that jobs numbers won’t return to their December-2019 apex for at least another three years.

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Virginia Gov. Northam Proposes $862 Million of American Rescue Plan Act Funds to Partially Refill Unemployment Trust Fund

As part of his “Investment Week” announcing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation proposals, Governor Ralph Northam announced $862 million for Virginia’s unemployment insurance trust fund, depleted during COVID-19.

“Shoring up the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance trust fund is a smart investment that will prevent Virginia businesses from paying higher taxes and allow our economy to continue surging,” Northam said in a Tuesday announcement.

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Governor DeSantis Announces Reinstatement of Work Search Requirements

On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that on May 30th, he will be reinstating the work search requirements for jobless Floridians seeking unemployment benefits. In April, DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) extended the work search waivers through May 29th which allows applicants to receive benefits without reporting their weekly search for jobs to the DEO in the form of job applications.

Before the waivers were established in March 2020, individuals who were unemployed and looking for benefits had to complete and report five job applications to a registered career center or directly to the DEO. With the reinstatement of the work search requirements at the end of the month, and the denial of SB 1906 that would have increased the amount of weekly benefits and decreased the number of job applications required to report on a weekly basis, the process in attaining unemployment benefits will go back to how it was before the pandemic. 

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Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Triggers End to Federal Unemployment Benefit

Jeff McCord

Because of progress made lowering Tennessee’s unemployment rate, 3,000 Tennesseans receiving unemployment payments through the federal Extended Benefits program no longer will receive those funds beginning Nov. 7.

The U.S. Department of Labor administers the Extended Benefits program based on each state’s unemployment metrics. Tennessee crossed the threshold of economic recovery earlier this month, triggering the end of the program, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TDLWD) announced Friday.

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Minnesota Will Receive $300 Weekly in Unemployment Benefits Under FEMA Grant

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved for Minnesotans to receive $300 in weekly unemployment benefits this fall. FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor issued the grant through the Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program.

The approval comes one day after Governor Tim Walz announced his decision to apply for additional unemployment payments. Walz explained this was a necessary decision based on the continued COVID-19 mandates. 

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Ohio Accepts Plan for $300 in Federal Unemployment Aid

Ohio unemployment claimants would receive $300 in federal weekly unemployment assistance under an option provided by the White House that doesn’t require extra state spending, the administration of Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The plan agreed to late Sunday by DeWine means less money for the unemployed under another option, that would provide $400 a week, with $100 coming from the state.

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State Department of Labor Takes Steps to Catch Up as Tennesseans Wait on Unemployment Claims

Jeff McCord

More than a quarter of a million Tennesseans have open unemployment claims with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

While some unemployed claimants have waited more than nine weeks to receive a first benefit payment, the department said it is continuing to adapt to meet the unprecedented demand.

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Criminals Stealing Unemployment Benefits as Claims Surge

Criminals are seizing on a surge in job losses to steal unemployment benefits from Americans nationwide. This complicates an already tough situation for millions of financially strapped Americans and overwhelmed state unemployment offices.

While there’s no exact measure of how many fraudulent claims have been made, states from Washington to Maine say they’ve seen an increase and numerous federal agencies are working to fight it.

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6.6 Million More US Workers Claim Jobless Benefits

Another 6.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment compensation last week as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the American economy, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The new figure pushed the three-week total to more than 16 million workers looking for financial assistance, with millions more laid-off employees expected to file claims in the coming weeks as businesses large and small shut their operations or severely limit them.

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