State leaders: Hard to tell if unemployment numbers are dropping in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The State Labor and Industry Secretary office said it’s hard to tell if the unemployment numbers are dropping as we’ve entered the green phase.

“I can't say definitively that it has made a difference," said Department of Labor & Industry Secretary, Jerry Oleksiak.

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About 2.5 million Pennsylvanians applied for unemployment since mid-March, and we got a better look who is really most impacted.

“The numbers we’ve seen apply for unemployment have been dropping. They picked back up a few weeks ago,” Oleksiak said

He said it’s tough to tell if things are getting back to normal. People going back to their jobs don’t need to tell the department. They just stop filing claims. More than 115,000 people applied for benefits last week even as half of the state was going green. Prior to March 15, the state was seeing about 40,000 new claims.

“Entertainment, leisure, restaurants have been impacted pretty heavily, health care in some areas,” Oleksiak said.

The department’s data shows more than 100,000 people continued to be out of work in Allegheny County during the week of May 30. The numbers reveal 53% of women are out of work compared to 46% men and adults ages 25-34 is the largest group unemployed. The age group 25-34 is also the highest statewide as well.

“Any data we have in the L & I system is still secure,” Oleksiak said.

The state also commented on the pandemic unemployment identity theft scam that targeted our state in May. Oleksiak said going to paper checks helped secure the system, but they will be moving to debit cards soon and no longer using direct deposit with PUA.

As for how many scam claims were filed and how much was given out, we still don't know.

“This is an ongoing criminal investigation, and we won’t be sharing details on this investigation,” Oleksiak said.

If you got a paper check but never filed for Pandemic Unemployment, you should file a police report and send the check back to the state at this address:

Department of Treasury Comptroller’s Office

Attn. Mark Accorsi

Roome 113, Finance Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120