By: KDKA’s Meghan Schiller
HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Out of work and headed into debt, U.S. Senator Bob Casey says Pennsylvanians are hurting.
“We haven’t seen these numbers in unemployed since the early 1980s and it’s even worse than then,” Sen. Casey said.
That’s why he’s pushing for Congress to extend the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit.
He talked one-on-one with KDKA’s Meghan Schiller to explain why he thinks people in our area need the cash.
“It’s the right thing to do for workers when you have a public health crisis and an economic and jobs crisis,” said Senator Casey.
He joined Governor Tom Wolf on a virtual call on Tuesday afternoon to bluntly push for more help for the state.
“We’ve got in Pa. 821,000 people out of work. In Allegheny County, it’s almost 78,000 people out of work,” said Casey.
He’s talking about people like Lynne Rynkiewicz from O’Hara Township.
“It’s a little unnerving and we don’t know what we’re going to do next,” said Rynkiewicz.
She’s a server at a local restaurant and used the extra $600 to cover costs and save for unexpected expenses during the pandemic.
“I was saving it because I’m a server. And since we were closed so long and then went off and on, it was my backup to pay some of my bills,” said Rynkiewicz.
Republicans argue the extra $600 will act as a disincentive for people to head back to work. Others ask where is the money going to come from?
Senator Casey wants to help residents stay afloat until Pennsylvanians get back to work.
“The best way to proceed is to extend it, but to make it a determination about the duration based upon the unemployment level in the state, not at the arbitrary whim of a politician in Washington,” said Sen. Casey.