Labor officials hopeful as Pennsylvania lifts economic restrictions

Kristen Johanson
May 22, 2020 - 2:09 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An unprecedented 15% of Pennsylvanians filed for unemployment in April — which is higher than the national rate. Officials hope the percentage begins to drop as the state slowly loosens restrictions on businesses and residents. 

With construction now allowed to resume in the state, and some counties now moving from red to yellow, state Labor Secretary Jerry Oleksiak says the health of Pennsylvanians may determine unemployment numbers

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“The mitigation efforts are working. The more we can flatten that curve and get more counties open, the more likely it is that the numbers will change in the right direction,” he said.

The record-breaking number of unemployed workers hasn’t been this high since 1983 — far surpassing the Great Recession. However, if numbers of businesses and companies don’t survive the pandemic, Oleksiak says it could potentially get worse.

“We are already beginning to look forward. What will work look like? What will the economy look like? How do we respond to that as a commonwealth? As government agencies?” he said.

A county-by-county breakdown of Pennsylvanians who have filed for benefits will be available next month.

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