The Keystone state, so named for having been both the geographic and political center of the original 13 colonies, is a state steeped in American history. Home to the liberty bell, the City of Philadelphia also housed the federal government following the signing of the Declaration of Independence there in 1776. The Constitution was later drafted there in 1787. Pennsylvania is also home of the first American baseball stadium, the first American zoo and the first multi-lane highway in America. And of course, the town of Hershey, the home of Hershey’s Chocolate, is considered the chocolate capital of the country.
Pennsylvania has been maintaining an unemployment rate just below the national average in recent months. The state’s rate of unemployment at the end of last year was 4.7% compared to 5.0% nationwide. At the close of the first quarter, it had crept up slightly to 4.9%, still lower than the national average of 5.0%. Like the rest of the country, Pennsylvania borrowed federal funds in order to support its unemployment program at the height of the Great Recession. To repay its federal debt, the state used employer financed bonds. Pennsylvania is now working on rebuilding the positive balance of their state unemployment trust fund. However, with an AHCM of 0.12 at the close of 2015, their fund, like the funds in many other states, is not yet able to support their unemployment program through another recession. The taxable wage base in Pennsylvania is just $9,500, which is substantially lower than the national average of $17,700. However, the average tax rate for employers in Pennsylvania is 6.0% (as a percentage of taxable wages), which is currently the highest nationwide.
The maximum duration of unemployment payments in Pennsylvania is currently 26 weeks, which is in line with the vast majority of states. The maximum weekly benefit amount that unemployment claimants can collect is $442, and the maximum total benefit amount is $11,492. In Pennsylvania, Staffing companies and Temporary Help agencies must be very diligent with record keeping and reporting in order to effectively manage their unemployment expenditures. This is because the state will only accept protests of unemployment claims based on work refusals if they are made within 7 days or less of the date the refusal occurred. Sometimes, this means reporting work refusals to the state even before an unemployment claim is filed for a given week.
US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate in Pennsylvania [PAUR], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PAUR, May 5, 2016.