Gov. Wolf Announces $6.8 Million in Federal Grants to Promote Equitable Access to Unemployment Compensation Claims
March 01, 2022
Governor Tom Wolf today announced that Pennsylvania was awarded $6.8 million in grant funding to help promote equitable access to our state Unemployment Compensation system.
“Particularly during the pandemic, unemployment compensation became a lifeline for Pennsylvanians, but it’s critical that all Pennsylvanians who need it have access,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’m grateful that this funding emphasizes efforts to ensure equitable access to the UC system and that it will support our Department of Labor & Industry’s ongoing efforts to ensure that our UC system is accessible and secure.”
The funding was awarded by the US Department of Labor through the American Rescue Plan Act and can be used for activities that promote equitable access to Unemployment Compensation programs, including eliminating administrative barriers to benefit application, reducing state workload backlogs, improving the timeliness of UC payments to eligible individuals and ensuring equity in fraud prevention, detection and recovery activities.
L&I will use the funding to bring high quality UC service to underserved populations by hiring more staff for CareerLinks and adding iPad technology available to both staff and claimants and to eliminate the backlog of pending Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) appeals for the population targeted by the UI Equity grant by hiring staff.
“Over the past two years, Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation system has distributed about $48.5 billion to Pennsylvanians experiencing economic hardship through no fault of their own. Thanks to the hundreds of dedicated public servants at L&I who administer UC, thousands of Pennsylvania families were kept afloat by this critical safety-net program during an unprecedented crisis,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said. “As we enter a time of reflection, we must leverage the lessons learned during the past two years into improvements that we can all agree are needed to ensure that every Pennsylvania family has equitable access to the UC safety net in times of crisis.”
Pennsylvania, along with Oregon, Virginia and the District of Columbia, were the first applicants awarded a total of $20.5 million during this first funding round.
Recipients may use grant funds to support innovative strategies and solutions to promote equitable access to UC programs. This includes funding that will increase public awareness of the program so more people apply, improve service delivery so claimants receive their first benefits in a timely manner, develop a better understanding of the equity challenges that need to be addressed, and for evaluations of their grant activities to determine their effectiveness.