Unemployment benefits recipients across Pa. will have to start showing they are looking for work

Written by on May 25, 2021

Unemployment benefits recipients across Pa. will have to start showing they are looking for work

By Sam Dunklau / WITF

May 25, 2021

FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, a help wanted sign hangs on the door of a Target store in Uniontown, Pa. The government issues the jobs report Friday, Sept. 4, for August at a time of continuing layoffs and high unemployment. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

People receiving state unemployment payments will be required to look for work again starting in July.

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Before the pandemic, if you were getting unemployment money in Pennsylvania, you had to apply for two jobs and show you searched for a third one each week.

The Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Department waived those requirements for more than a year. Now, acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier says the conditions are right to bring them back.

“We have staff right now preparing for the historic flow of workers who will be looking for services to help them find employment, and we are also diligently working to ensure that when these requirements are reimplemented, they do not introduce chaos and confusion into the system,” Berrier says. 

John Dodds, who directs the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, says those out of a job are happy to find a new one, but only if they’ll be paid enough to support themselves.

“Go ahead and do it, but let’s get the wages. Make it worthwhile for somebody to come out and work. Don’t make it a starvation wage and starve ’em even worse,” Dodds says. 

At the same time, Labor and Industry is launching a new online benefits system early next month.

Since work searches won’t be required until July 18, the agency says it should have enough time to make both changes and fix any tech problems.

Berrier says another rule requiring people to register with the state’s career help service will still be suspended until September.

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