Pennsylvania’s Labor and Industry Secretary is pushing for a change in unemployment eligibility requirements.
Secretary Sandi Vito says 30-thousand out-of-work Pennsylvanians would become eligible for assistance if the bill goes through.
Right now, state officials don’t weigh a person’s most recent quarter of earnings, when they’re determining whether or not someone is eligible for unemployment compensation. Instead, the other four of the previous five quarters are examined.
Vito says the law disqualifies people who are in and out of work.
"A lot of folks – and this economy, this is happening more and more often, where folks are getting laid off, they take a job in good faith, only to be laid off again. And in that case, they’re being penalized, in a lot of cases, because we can’t count their most recent earnings."
A House bill sponsored by Allegheny County Democrat Marc Gergely would change the requirements, and qualify Pennsylvania for 273 million dollars in federal aid.
But members of the business community argue the shift would lower standards, and make unemployment compensation an entitlement, rather than a safety net.
Kevin Shivers, the Pennsylvania director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, explains.
"So now under this legislation, if it were to become law, teenagers – who may have a summer job – or somebody who has a seasonable job, would now be able to collect unemployment benefits. So these are people with very little attachment to the workforce."
The change would make Pennsylvania eligible for 273 million dollars in federal assistance. It would also let people who quit their jobs due to a family member’s move apply for unemployment benefits.
It’s currently in front of the House Labor Relations Committee.