Pennsylvania last state to tighten unemployment rule

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2011 5:08 PM
Pennsylvania last state to tighten unemployment rule

By Tim Sohn

SHOHOLA, Pa (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Pennsylvania next month becomes the last state in the nation to require proof of active job seeking from anyone filing for unemployment benefits.

The law, which takes effect January 1, requires anyone receiving an unemployment check to add their resume to the Pennsylvania CareerLink jobs database, which tracks job-seeking activity.

It also specifies that the unemployed person should look for jobs that are similar in nature and pay rate to the job lost and within a 45-minute commuting distance.

Dr. Pattabiraman Neelakantan, economics department chairman at Pennsylvania's East Stroudsburg University said many states, including Pennsylvania, are facing severe budget shortfalls, and the employment outlook is unlikely to improve in the short-term.

"Hence, states trying to make sure that the unemployment benefits go to the right people who are actively job searching is a reasonable one," Neelakantan told Reuters.

The new state law, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in June, ensured that 45,000 Pennsylvania residents who were granted an extra 13 weeks of federally-funded benefits would not lose them if Congress decided to eliminate the extension.

Moving in that direction, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that extends unemployment benefits initially but reduces the maximum amount of federal and state benefit weeks from 99 to 59 weeks by the middle of 2012. The U.S. Senate opposes the House bill.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is slightly lower than the national rate. It was 8.1 percent in October compared with a national rate of 8.6 percent in November. The November jobless rates for states have not yet been released.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)