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Shapiro Administration UC Connect Program Marks Second Year Offering In-Person Customer Service to Unemployment Compensation Claimants, Has Served 75,000 Pennsylvanians

05/30/2024

Contact: Trevor Monk, dlipress@pa.gov

Harrisburg, PA – In the two years since its launch, the Shapiro Administration's UC Connect program offering in-person customer service to Unemployment Compensation (UC) claimants throughout the Commonwealth has served more than 75,000 Pennsylvanians thanks to bipartisan investments in the 2023-24 budget that enabled the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) to hire more staff trained to assist claimants with technology or language barriers.

UC Connect ensures that Pennsylvania's UC program is a true safety net for workers who have lost a job through no fault of their own by enhancing the accessibility of the program. In-person services for UC claimants available at Pennsylvania CareerLink® locations are designed to assist individuals who do not have proper technology, equipment, or technical skills; individuals without access to home Internet or broadband; and individuals with limited-English proficiency. To make a UC Connect appointment, claimants should call 1-855-284-8545.

“When the UC Connect program started two years ago, we knew that some claimants would appreciate the opportunity to interact with UC staff in person. But the success of UC Connect has exceeded our expectations, and it's proved to be a key component of our strategy to deliver an effective safety-net program to Pennsylvanians in times of hardship. More than 75,000 Pennsylvanians have had their questions answered and their issues resolved thanks to a traditional customer-service model that meets the needs of so many individuals who might otherwise face barriers to service," L&I Secretary Nancy A. Walker said. “UC Connect is a great example of government being a force for good, and our team at L&I looks forward to continuing our commitment to delivering this service to Pennsylvanians."

UC Connect launched in May 2022 under the Wolf Administration with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. Under Governor Josh Shapiro's and Secretary Walker's leadership, L&I continued the program in 2023 and successfully worked with the General Assembly to invest in staffing to maintain the program permanently. 

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION  
When he took office, Governor Shapiro promised to make overhauling the UC system a priority and directed L&I to focus first on resolution of the pandemic-era backlog – a workload of 40,000 remaining claims filed between March 2020 and November 2021 that each required individual examination and adjudication. Under Secretary Walker's leadership, the entire backlog was eliminated within seven months.

With bipartisan support in the 2023-24 budget, L&I leveraged the Service Improvement and Infrastructure Fund (SIIF) to hire more than 380 additional UC interviewers to staff service centers and answer calls since January 2023. The impact of that investment is clear: wait times for phone assistance have decreased dramatically, and Pennsylvanians are once again receiving the efficient, timely customer service they deserve.

L&I distributed more than $1.7 billion in UC benefits in 2023 to about 326,000 Pennsylvanians – all of whom experienced the loss of a job or work hours through no fault of their own. 

In April 2024, L&I received 41,382 claims and distributed UC benefits totaling $180,291,035 to 101,502 eligible claimants. 
 
In April, L&I served: 

  • 96,663 individuals through the UC helpline at 888-313-7284;
  • 4,254 individuals through the UC Live Chat service;
  • 15,409 individuals through email. 

Since May 2023, UC staff have been answering most emails within 24 hours. 

Through the Department's UC Connect program, L&I served 2,158 individuals in April for a total of 75,275 since the program's launch in May 2022. 

L&I reminds UC claimants of their responsibility to file weekly benefit certifications online or by using the Department's touch tone telephone service, called PAT, at 888-255-4728 (en Español, 877-888-8104).

RAPID RESPONSE SERVICES 
Rapid Response Services are available for businesses and workers in the event of job dislocation caused by a natural disaster, economic transition, planned layoff or closure through the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Rapid Response Services are available to employers and employees at no cost. 

In April, L&I provided Rapid Response Services to 33 employers and 814 workers.

L&I invites business owners experiencing economic challenges to contact the Department for Rapid Response assistance by emailing RA-LI-BWPO-Rapid@pa.gov or calling 866-858-2753. Workers can find additional support through the PA CareerLink® network

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, please visit the website or follow L&I on FacebookX, and LinkedIn. 

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