Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak on Monday announced that people who exhaust their regular unemployment compensation (UC) and federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) may now qualify for 13 additional weeks of payments through the state’s Unemployment Compensation Extended Benefits program.


According to the Pa. Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, Monroe County hit the peak in continued weekly unemployment claims on the week of May 2 with 18,375, compared to 1,274,134 claims in the state. The numbers have slowly come down to 9,177 claims still collecting as of week June 20, compared to 634,800 claims in the state. Monroe County makes up approximately 14% of the state’s unemployment rate.


Oleksiak claims over $21.5 billion in total benefits has been paid since March 15 at the beginning of the pandemic:


– $9.6 billion from regular UC


– $9.6 billion from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program (extra $600 per week)


– $2.2 billion issued so far to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants (self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors)


– $129 million through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program (extended benefits)


"We have more refusals of work reports than usual," said Susan Dickinson, director of the state Labor & Industry unemployment compensation benefits policy. "Whether people are auto immune compromised or they don’t feel safe, it would need to be further investigated. Only after a determination is reached would the continuation of benefits possibly be stopped."


Extended Benefits (EB) are additional UC benefits payable to qualified workers whenever the state’s unemployment rate reaches a certain level determined by law. The last time the EB program was triggered in Pennsylvania was 2009.


The current EB period began May 3, 2020, but benefits are not payable until an individual has exhausted PEUC benefits. EB payments will begin with the week ending July 4, 2020 and are payable only for weeks of unemployment during an EB period.


Important information about the EB program follows and will be sent by mail to all individuals who potentially qualify for the additional benefits.