Lawmaker Says Reduction of Unemployment Insurance in Pennsylvania is ‘A Fairness Thing’
In an interview with a local daily, a Republican member of the Pennsylvania State Representatives said that he wants to reform that unemployment insurance system being used by the state. This is because as it stands now, workers are allowed to go on a paid vacation for most of the year.
During the course of the interview, Rep. Scott Perry said, “This is a fairness thing. What we’re trying to accomplish here is to make sure the system is solvent for people who are truly needy.”
By changing the way benefit amounts are being calculated, the measure would allow savings to be made by the state. The bill proposed by Perry would give the state a savings of about $632 million annually through 2018. This is based on an analysis made by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
Under the current state law, the amount of the weekly check of a claimant is based either on 50% of his full-time weekly wage or his highest quarterly income in the previous year, whichever is higher. The bill of Perry would alter the latter method to base benefits on the average earnings of the best three quarters of the claimant.
Although the modification might sound like an insignificant technical change, it would have the effect of reducing payouts to jobless workers by about $463 million annually. This is because approximately 70% of claimants residing in Pennsylvania have uneven wages in the course of a year and would not anymore receive benefits based on only their best three months.
According to Sharon Dietrich of Community Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of low-income Pennsylvania residents, the average weekly payout would decrease from $324 to $277.