Rendell says National Stimulus Needed to Boost Economy

HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell said that Pennsylvania continues to feel the effects of the struggling national economy as the state’s nonfarm job count1 in November dropped 26,000 jobs and the unemployment rate2 rose to 6.1 percent. The national job loss in November was more than 500,000 — the worst monthly loss in three decades.

Nationally, the unemployment rate in November rose to 6.7 percent. Pennsylvania’s rate has been at or below the national level for 69 of the past 71 months.

“The national recession continues to take a heavy toll on working families across the United States and here in Pennsylvania,” Rendell said. “During the first week of December, the nation saw the highest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits filed in 26 years; in Pennsylvania, initial claims are up 12 percent from one year ago. Citizens facing difficult times need to know we are doing everything possible to help them while we also work to stimulate economic growth that will create new jobs.

“Pennsylvania is weathering the recession better than many states because of the strategic investments we continue to make in businesses, communities and workers,” the governor said. “We are also doing our part to stimulate the economy with infrastructure investments to fix our bridges and water systems.

“But, no state can do it alone. That was the message governors from across the nation shared with President-elect Obama earlier this month in Philadelphia. I’m pleased that he understands the need for a national economic recovery plan that will make strategic investments in our entire infrastructure including schools, clean water and energy projects. Everyone wins when we stimulate the economy by putting people to work making our transportation, water and schools safer.

“November’s national job loss figures include 82,000 in the construction sector and 85,000 in manufacturing. The infrastructure stimulus program is aimed directly at these sectors, creating good paying jobs and orders for American manufacturers.

“This recession is straining states’ resources to provide the unemployment compensation benefits financial safety net for jobless citizens. Meanwhile, the federal government has built up a surplus in Federal Unemployment Tax Act taxes collected from employers in Pennsylvania and other states. I urge President Bush and Congress to immediately return those funds to the states to help us provide adequate services and benefits to an increased number of unemployed workers,” Rendell said.

Pennsylvania is taking additional steps to help residents manage during these difficult times. Rendell pointed to the recent expansion of unemployment compensation services as one of the ways the state is enhancing assistance to Pennsylvanians who have lost their jobs.

The commonwealth has made it easier to contact the statewide Unemployment Compensation Service Center – 1-888-313-7284 — and more staff is available to help. Additional staff and hours will be added as necessary. The most efficient way to file a claim for unemployment compensation is online, 24 hours a day.

“Families are counting on us to provide unemployment services as quickly as possible,” Rendell said. “Our unemployment rate remains below the national level, as it has for the past seven months, but we must continue to respond efficiently to the needs of every unemployed resident.”

Earlier in the week, the governor announced a canned food drive among state employees, a joint effort with the United Way to install 3,000 weatherization kits in the homes of senior citizens trying to manage their rising utility bills and launched HereToHelp.pa.gov – a new online resource providing convenient access to existing state programs.

“The faltering national economy has created many challenges for our families and this is an opportunity for all of us look for new ways to help our neighbors,” Rendell said. “In these tough times, we all can reflect the principles of strength, unity and perseverance that make Pennsylvania one of the greatest states in the nation.”

For more information on Rendell’s efforts to help residents, visit HereToHelp.pa.gov. For more information on unemployment compensation and employment services, visit here.

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