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Labor Report

PA Labor Department Launches Redesigned Website Emphasizing Accessibility, Enhanced Features

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has launched a redesigned PA CareerLink website that makes it easier than ever for PA workers, employers, and workforce development groups to connect to vital job search and career development tools. 

“L&I is focused on training Pennsylvania workers for the new economy emerging in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said.  “To accomplish this, we're modernizing and upgrading our job search and reskilling programs.  We began with redesigning the PA CareerLink website to be more user-friendly, which is important because even before the pandemic, the job search and application process had moved almost entirely online for most businesses.”

The redesigned website focuses on accessibility and features an enhanced candidate sourcing and application process, which will simplify the hiring process for jobseekers and employers.  It makes other key resources more accessible, including links to the search pages for trainings, apprenticeships, and internships; as well as adult education resources; the Employment, Advancement and Retention Network (EARN); and PA Compass benefits.

Secretary Oleksiak also noted the valuable, free services that PA CareerLink provides, helping workers access job search and training assistance, and helping employers find the skilled workers they need to succeed. 

“Virtual PA CareerLink services have been provided continuously for job seekers and employers, including adult education classes, career counseling, and on-the-job training programs,” Secretary Oleksiak said. “Most PA CareerLinks have begun taking limited in-person appointments as well.  I encourage everyone to use the valuable free services that they provide.”

To schedule an appointment for limited on-site services, individuals may contact their local PA CareerLink office. A directory of offices is posted at

To protect the health and safety of customers and staff and to continue following COVID-19 social distancing and mitigation recommendations, UC courtesy telephones will not be available in PA CareerLink offices until further notice.

For more information, including COVID-19 employment opportunities in the commonwealth, visit

State’s Unemployment Rate Plummets, Analysts Warn of Declining Workforce Participation

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate plummeted by 2.3% in September, falling to 8.1%, according to new data from the PA Department of Labor & Industry. 

The current rate is about half of the pandemic-period high of 16.1% in April, but still far more than the pre-pandemic rate of 4.7% and the historic low of 4.1% recorded every month from September 2018 through April 2019.

The current state rate is just 0.2% higher than the national rate for September of 7.9%. Nationally, unemployment declined by 0.5% month-to-month, but analysists attributed most of that decline to people dropping out of the workforce, as opposed to employment growth.

That is, the unemployment rate does not reflect people who have officially stopped looking for jobs, perhaps because their unemployment benefits have expired.  In September, the nation’s employment-to-population ratio was 56.6%, a decline of 4.5% from the February 2020 level.  Women’s workforce participation was 55.6% in September, its lowest level since February 1987.

Another misleading element of the current unemployment rate is that it doesn’t account for individuals who have been prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic.  They are not counted as unemployed. There were 4.5 million Americans in that situation in September, down from 5.2 million in the prior month.

In Pennsylvania, the civilian labor force grew by 52,000 people in September while the official unemployment figure declined by 141,000 and total employment grew by 194,000.

Pennsylvania’s total nonfarm jobs were up 194,000 for the month to 5,597,800.  Employment increased in nine of 11 industry supersectors, with the largest increase in leisure & hospitality (16,100 additional jobs).

Over the last five months, Pennsylvania has recovered 54.2% of the nonfarm jobs it lost in March and April.

PA Senate Democrats Announce Plan to Distribute Remaining Federal CARES Funding

Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus have outlined a plan to spend the remaining $1.331 billion in CARES money that Pennsylvania received as part of a federal assistance package earlier this year.

The money must be spent by December 31 on COVID-19 related needs or the state loses the authority to use it at all.

“When we passed our original spending plan for these dollars, we withheld a portion of our allocation to see what would happen with COVID-19 through the summer and fall,” Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa said.  “We waited for more assistance from the federal government that never came.  Washington has failed but here in PA, we have found that families, small businesses, and many other institutions need additional assistance for recovery.  We’ve been allocated these funds to help with recovery; it’s time to spend them.  Folks need help now.  I urge our Republican colleagues to add this to the agenda for our session days next week.”

“We are a long way from recovering what has been lost during the pandemic and sitting on $1.3 billion does nothing to help people who are hurting right now,” Senator Vincent Hughes said. “We must drive dollars out to our existing and proven methods of distributing CARES funding immediately.  Our families, workers, small businesses owners, and so many others are still struggling to get through this pandemic.  They do not have the luxury of a wait-and-see approach, which is why we must act now. Furthermore, we need the federal government to enact a spending plan that helps states do more to help the people through the greatest crisis of our lifetimes.”

The Senate Democratic plan includes:
• $125 million for individual and family relief with utility bill assistance
• $575 million for business assistance, specifically for: nonprofit assistance, main street and historically disadvantaged businesse, barbers, salons, personal care industry, tourism, Bars, taverns, restaurants, private event spaces and hospitality
• $15 million food security
• $125 million for high Medicaid hospitals
• $141 million for higher education
• $75 million for childcare
• $100 million for hazard pay in existing programs, and expanded programs for pharmacies
• $150 million for property tax relief
• $25 million for public safety

Senator Tartaglione has advocated for hospital funding to be distributed proportionally to facilities based on the number of Medicaid patients they treat.   The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted low-income and minority communities disproportionately.  Likewise, hospitals in those areas, including Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center, have seen disproportionately high numbers of COVID patients.

In the higher education sector, state-affiliated universities such as Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln, would share in the relief funding with community colleges and vocational schools such as Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.  Senator Tartaglione and Senator Costa previously introduced legislation to allocate higher education relief funding.  Their proposal has been incorporated into the new CARES plan.

For more information on the Senate Democratic proposals for the first or second allocation of CARES funds, please visit

COVID Resurgence Continues in PA, Nationwide as Europe Sets Records for New Cases

The upward trend of new COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania has continued throughout the past week.  On October 16, the PA Department of Health reported 1,566 new cases over the previous 24 hours, raising the statewide total to 179,086 since the start of the pandemic.

It was the 11th consecutive day that the new cases total exceeded 1,000. The moving seven-day average of statewide cases increased by 17 to 1,397.  The average has been on a sharp upward incline since late September, when it spent several days below the 800 level.

At the height of the pandemic on April 11, the seven-day average for Pennsylvania was 1,686.  By June 19, it had plummeted to 395.  It stood below 600 as recently as August 27.

Nationally, there were 65,327 new cases reported on October 15, the highest total since July 31 and just 10,000 below the highest ever recorded in a single day, 75,682 on July 16.

Beyond the United States, infection rates in Europe have been surpassing prior records and have overtaken the number of cases in the U.S. per capita, according to The Washington Post.

“The [World Health Organization] is seeing ‘exponential increases’ in daily cases in Europe,” the Post reported.  “At 1,000 deaths per day, COVID-19 is now Europe’s fifth-leading cause of death.  In just the past 10 days, a million new coronavirus cases have been recorded in Europe, raising the total since the start of the pandemic to 7 million.”

“Case numbers are higher now than in the spring in part because testing is more readily available, but other indicators, such as the positive rate of tests and hospitalization rates, are also blinking red. Death rates, though far lower, are also creeping up.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castex told journalists that the number of cases among the elderly in his country is rising quickly.  The belief is that younger people have become less concerned about the risks of the virus and protecting themselves. Now they are spreading it to their older relatives.

The WHO reported that about 60% of Europeans are wearing masks, but the rate should be 95% and limits on the size of social gatherings must be followed to slow the resurgence of the virus and to avert the need for new, economically harmful shutdown measures.