HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Lawmakers in Pennsylvania met on Wednesday to solve the state’s unemployment problems. They want to know why the system keeps failing and how to fix it.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reports 98 percent of eligible people who filed for unemployment between March 15 and July 4 have either been paid or found ineligible. Wednesday’s hearing was about the remaining two percent still waiting for a lifeline, like Jamie Fair.
“I am debating on taking out a loan just to survive,” Fair said. “But at the same time, I have to pay interest on that. Are they going to pay interest on my unemployment that they’ve held from me this long?”
State representatives asked labor and unemployment secretaries why constituents, like Fair, are not receiving benefits.
“The state of Pennsylvania’s unemployment system has failed tens of thousands of people,” said Rep. Eric Nelson.
The state says problems with unemployment include fraudulent claims and an outdated filing system.
“Fifty-six or 54 percent of claims, at one point, were fraudulent and this has created a whole new host of problems,” Rep. Nelson said.
For Fair, time is running out.
“I just bought this house at the end of February. They are putting me in danger of losing it,” Fair said.
Lawmakers hope improvements to the state’s online system will help. Some representatives want more access to the system in their district offices to help process claims.