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Labor Report

Unemployment Compensation Legislation to Aid 44,000 Workers

Legislation was approved in the both the House and Senate to aid seasonal/cyclical workers who were negatively impacted by a change in the unemployment compensation (UC) law adopted four years ago. 

 “It is imperative that we restore unemployment compensation eligibility for seasonal and cyclical workers who were disadvantaged by the law.  Far too many workers were negatively impacted and this needs to be rectified as soon as possible.” - Sen. Christine Tartaglione

constructionThe legislation reduces the percentage of income earned outside an employee’s high quarter in order to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.  

The formula was changed four years ago by Act 60.  Under that law, a worker earning less than 49.5 percent of income in the three quarters outside the high quarter was ineligible for UC benefits.  The legislation reduces the percentage to 37 percent and restores it to the previous rate.

The change is estimated to benefit 44,000 workers.  Many of the workers are in the building trades who became victims of the unintended consequences of the change. 

“Families were needlessly impacted and lives disturbed.  Seasonal and cyclical workers were being penalized through no fault of their own.” Sen. Christine Tartaglione

Senator Tartaglione serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.  She was heavily involved in negotiating the legislative language to help the workers, in addition to other provisions in the legislation. 

The legislation includes a number of other UC provisions including an increase in the reserve, a modification of the benefit rate, amnesty and anti-fraud provisions and solvency trigger changes that are intended to preserve the integrity of the UC Trust Fund. 

The measure was approved 39-8 in the Senate and 161-30 in the House of Representatives.  The bill is now on Governor Tom Wolf’s desk awaiting his approval.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Rate in September Unchanged From August

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was unchanged from August at 5.7 percent. Pennsylvania’s rate remained above that of the United States, which increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.0 percent in September.  

Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force was up 7,000 from August to 6,522,000. Resident employment increased by 5,000 while the unemployment count rose 1,000.

Total nonfarm jobs declined 5,300 to 5,895,200 in September. Jobs in seven of the 11 job classes were down from August. The two largest gains this month both set record high levels – professional and business services and leisure & hospitality.  Education, health services and government tied for the largest volume decline.  The August nonfarm jobs count was revised upward.

Over the year, total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 51,500. The largest increase over the past twelve months was in education and health services, while the largest decline was in mining and logging. 

Current Labor Force StatisticsSeasonally Adjusted
(In thousands)
        Change from
August 2016
Change from
September 2015
PA September 2016 August 2016 September 2015 Volume Percent Volume Percent
Civilian Labor Force 6,522 6,515 6,429 7 0.1% 93 1.4%
Employment 6,151 6,146 6,117 5 0.1% 34 0.6%
Unemployment 371 370 312 1 0.3% 59 18.9%
Rate 5.7 5.7 4.9 0.0 ---- 0.8 ----


Current Labor Force Statistics Seasonally Adjusted
(In thousands)
        Change from
August 2016
Change from
September 2015
U.S. September 2016 August 2016 September 2015 Volume Percent Volume Percent
Civilian Labor Force 159,907 159,463 156,867 444 0.3% 3,040 1.9%
Employment 151,968 151,614 148,942 354 0.2% 3,026 2.0%
Unemployment 7,939 7,849 7,925 90 1.1% 14 0.2%
Rate 5.0 4.9 5.1 0.1 ---- -0.1 ----


U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Work-Related Time Case

In November, 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Tyson food plant workers who were being improperly compensated by Tyson Foods.  The court ruled that the employees were not being paid for work-related time.  The employees filed a collective suit against the Supreme Court and Tyson Foodscompany to demand compensation for the time they had spent equipping themselves for work. 

The Supreme court issued a ruling in favor of the workers for approximately $3 million. 

The employees filed suit claiming that the required time they had to spend prepping for work was “integral and indispensable to their hazardous work and that petitioner’s policy not to pay for those activities denied them overtime compensation required by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).”  They used a statistical method to estimate the additional time a small sample of workers spent getting ready to plead their case for the thousands of workers in the class-action suit.

The ruling to allow a class of individuals to file a collective lawsuit based off of a small sample of the individuals has set precedence for workers and relates back to previous labor rulings. 

Read Ruling »