Latest PA Jobs Report Shows Cutting Unemployment Benefits Won’t Drive People Back to Work

Stephen Herzenberg |

Subject: The Latest PA Jobs Report Clearly Shows That Cutting Unemployment Benefits Won’t Drive People Back to Work


October 25, 2021

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released the preliminary jobs report for Pennsylvania Friday. Keystone Research Center economist and executive director Stephen Herzenberg is available for comment at 717-805-2318 or In addition, Dr. Herzenberg released the following statement based on the new numbers and published a blog on the topic here.

“The Pennsylvania jobs report for September echoed the earlier U.S. September jobs report in delivering a resounding ‘no’ to the question ‘did the end of more generous pandemic unemployment benefits lead workers to pour back to factory gates and retail stores and restaurants with ‘help wanted’ signs?’ In fact, the size of the Pennsylvania labor force and the number of Pennsylvania jobs decreased. The Delta virus and the lack of affordable child care continue to be the main factors slowing the economy and keeping potential workers at home. If unemployment compensation is holding back the economy, it is because wages are too low—the early September cutback in benefits took away $376 million in income every week from Pennsylvania families, nearly $20 billion on an annual basis. That drop in consumer buying power hurts local businesses as well as unemployed workers and their families.

An Associated Press analysis of BLS data for all 50 states released Friday found that workforces in the half of states that maintained a $300 supplement to weekly unemployment benefits until September grew slightly more from May to September than the labor force in the half of states that ended these benefits early.

The September dip in the number of seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs in Pennsylvania partly reflected a drop of 16,500 government jobs. The seasonal adjustment for education workers may have been too big because K-12 and college teachers did not return to work in numbers quite as large as usual. Non-government, private-sector jobs rose by 8,600, a slow but steady gain typical of other recent months. Pennsylvania remains over 350,000 jobs short of February 2020 pre-pandemic levels.”