In this email edition:
Pennsylvania unemployment 7th highest in the nation as employers struggle to find workers
Despite the continuing decrease in cases of COVID-19 and increase in vaccine doses administered, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate increased to 7.4% in April. This is the 7th highest rate in the United States and is significantly higher than the national unemployment average of 6.1%.
Business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have pointed to Pennsylvania’s continuing participation in the federal supplemental unemployment benefit program, which provides $300 extra a month to unemployment recipients, as a cause for our state’s lagging unemployment rate.
NFIB state director for Pennsylvania Greg Moreland noted that, “While the restrictions on businesses, put in place by the executive branch, are coming to an end, there remains one central theme as to why workers are resistant to return to the workforce: They are making equal, or in some cases more, money receiving unemployment compensation than they would if they had returned to gainful employment.”
As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our state government should be encouraging Pennsylvanians to return to the workforce, not incentivizing them to stay home. Learn more here and here.
Pottsville: One of the best cities in Pennsylvania for food and drink!
A recent article from Livability ranked Pottsville as the second best city in Pennsylvania for food and drink. The article focused on both longstanding presences in the community, such as Yuengling Brewery, as well as newer independent restaurants, including the WHEEL and Pressed Coffee & Books. This ranking would not be possible without the dedicated community revitalization efforts undertaken by private members of the community and city and state government. Check out the full list here.
Watch the video above to see a promo for the upcoming edition of my tv show, the Argall Report, which features the owner of Pressed Coffee & Books. This edition of my show will showcase many of the new businesses that have opened in downtown Pottsville in recent years.
State Government Committee holds first hearing on congressional redistricting
On Wednesday, I chaired a hearing of the Senate State Government Committee that discussed the redrawing of congressional districts. The committee heard testimony about the science of map-making, demographic trends in rural and urban areas of the state, and recommended map criteria.
New congressional maps are drawn by the State Government Committee every ten years after the completion of the Census. This decade’s redrawing process comes with even more controversy than normal, because Pennsylvania’s lagging population growth led to the loss of one seat in the House of Representatives. This means there will be 18 incumbent Congress members and 17 available seats for the 2022 election.
One of my goals in my role as the chair of the State Government Committee is to begin to roll back the hyper-partisan gerrymandering sins of the past, and the information gathered during this hearing was an important step in this process. Visit this link to learn more.
State champion basketball team from Nativity BVM High School visits the Capitol
Today, PA State Rep. Joe Kerwin, PA State Rep. Jerry Knowles, PA State Rep. Tim Twardzik and I welcomed and honored the Nativity BVM High School Boys’ Basketball Team for their 2020-21 PIAA State Class A Boys’ Basketball Championship.
Nativity is the first District 11 team since 1986 and the first Schuylkill County boys team since St. Clair in 1970 to be crowned PIAA basketball champions.
Honoring four new Berks County Eagle Scouts
On Sunday, I attended a joint ceremony for four new Eagle Scouts from Troop 456 in Sinking Spring. It’s not often that I attend a Court of Honor that features four different scouts at once! Congratulations to Nick Busher, Derek Witkowski, William Mallis, and Milo Edward Slye on all their hard work and service to community.
Touring the variety of hands-on labs offered at Penn College
I was recently invited by Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) to tour the Pennsylvania College of Technology. We were joined by Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. I had the chance to see the labs where students perform hands-on lessons in brewing and fermentation science, collision repair/automotive restoration, electrical technology, nursing, and many more of the programs offered by Penn College. To learn more about information about Penn College and the wide variety of programs they offer, visit this link.
PA set to transition to new unemployment compensation system
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Unemployment Compensation system is finally ready to move on from outdated technology and will transition to a new system May 30 – June 7, with the new system going live June 8.
The system will be offline for several days during next month’s transition from an outdated, 40-year-old system to a modern software solution, but department officials say the planned timeline has been positioned to allow most individuals to file their biweekly claims as scheduled.
Find out about disruptions this will cause and access user guides and virtual workshops here.
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