Unemployment assistance available for workers affected by pandemic

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Economic experts say unemployment numbers are expected to rise to historic levels nationally and in Pennsylvania but financial help is on the way from Washington and Harrisburg.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, 700,000 workers filed unemployment claims in the past two weeks. That amounts to about 10% of the state’s workforce.

Many of those people would come to Career Links centers like the one in Wilkes-Barre to search for a new job. But as the number of affected people grows by the day, State Representatives like Aaron Kaufer are leading the charge in Harrisburg to open up unemployment compensation funds to those who really need help.

“It’s huge numbers we are talking about. On a busy day unemployment offices are usually getting about 1,000,” Kaufer said. “They’re getting couple hundred thousand over several days over past weeks.”

State Lawmakers approved legislation this week to put the process on the fast track, recuing delays in receiving unemployment compensation and opening the fund to those people who normally would not qualify .

“We included in our expansion a provision that would allow, based on what the Federal Government did to expand to self-employed independent contractors who traditionally are unable to collect unemployment compensation would be able to collect unemployment assistance through a federal program partnership with the state,” Kaufer said.

Eyewitness News spoke earlier this week with State Senator John Yudichak who pointed out that this effort gained unanimous bipartisan support.

“We are going to move unemployment compensation legislation which is very important to make sure we are getting to those workers that have been displaced,” Yudichak said.

Federal lawmakers voted Friday to approve a multi-trillion dollar economic package to help workers across the nation and in Pennsylvania.

Read more about the federal economic stimulus package by clicking here.

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