Job Assistance and Training in Pennsylvania

Along with drawing Unemployment Insurance benefits in Pennsylvania, jobless workers can also utilise an array of programs and courses administered by the Department of Workforce Development in the state. In the state, Commonwealth Workforce Development System or CWDS as popularly known extends comprehensive career assistance services which includes

  • Job Search Services
  • Training for Improving Job Skills
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services

These programs are designed to help both unemployed and new workers to seek jobs, nurture their skills and get access to market information with a view to confidently apply for jobs and attend interviews. Let us explore the channels administered by the state in this regard.


Pennsylvania Job Gateway is an online portal that not only helps you to look up for jobs and meet prospective employers in the state, but also hosts a range of career resources and tools laid out to help you in your quest for job search. Simply register and start using the services. Creating a CDWS profile ensures that you can request for staff assisted services, sign up for events and use other tools.

One – Stop Services

This umbrella services gateway is a list of all departments and services available through the Commonwealth Workforce Development System(CWDS) such as Veteran services, Unemployment Compensation, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis etc. One Stop Services provides information about various agencies, their functions, contact information and services locations.

Search and Attend Events

The CWDS conducts various workshops and events in many fields such as vocational courses, skills training etc. You can not only look up for events happening in your area or county, but also find details of the event and register for them.

PA Career Coach

This web portal/tool will help you if you’re looking for a change in career or staring at setting up one as a fresher by means of reference to industry wise data in wages, employment, education and training etc. This site contains localised content to help you gauge the opportunities available in the state of Pennsylvania.

List of Certified Training Programs

This easy-to-use tool hosts details of all certified TAA/WIA training programs under a single roof. It contains various search references which helps in narrowing down easily on the desired training program. It also provides details of the available training programs/courses offered in your area. No registration is required to use this facility.

Labor Market Information

Your one stop shop for all the data and stats that extend in depth analysis on labor market information. It also contains charts, presentations, news and facts sheet that will help you in understanding the latest trends in the market.

All the services above comply with Jobs for Veterans Act by extending friendly and priority services to Veterans.

If you became unemployed recently and looking forward to claiming unemployment insurance benefits in the state of Pennsylvania, use the Benefits Calculator to estimate the monetary benefits. Unemployment compensation is extended for up to 26 weeks upon losing job due to involuntary reasons such as lay offs etc.

The weekly benefits is a derivative of your wages earned in the last 4 calendar quarters.

The Jobless Can’t Reach to State Call Centers

People who have a problem with unemployment benefits get endless busy signal.

The state’s call center for PA unemployment benefits in downtown Allentown is not set up to assist the unemployed, but most days some will turn up anxious for answers after receiving a non-stop busy signal when they try calling.

An employee of the call center memorized one woman who claimed she had pressed  redial 137 times before she even got the automatic answering service that inform you how long your wait will be. That wait for her was 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The call center employee said, “It’s bad, it is really bad”. Allentown’s call center on Hamilton Street is one of seven in Pennsylvania. The state stopped an eighth call center in Philadelphia in August and jobless 78 workers in response to a loss of federal unemployment benefits.

Presently, the state has 520 employees to receive calls and handle calls for the 525,000 laid-offs as per Sara Gourlet, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor & Industry. Of those unemployed 275,000 are collecting benefits.

Gourlet started inspecting into this after a neighbor told her he had been trying for days to reach someone in an unemployment office who could tell him how to resolve a problem with his claim.

He strived hard to fix the problem online at the Labor department website but there’s no selection available for his specific issue. “I tried calling 30 or 40 times,” he said. “You can never get through.”

After hearing number of similar stories, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia had a paralegal do an 11-day experiment to observe how long it would take her every day to expend on the toll-free-number.

For instance, on Aug 28, 2012, the paralegal got 37 consecutive busy signals and stopped trying after two hours. On Sept.5, she got 78 repeated busy signals after four hours. The least amount of time it took her over 11 days to get in touch with a live person was 29 minutes.

According to Sharon Dietrich, managing partner of Community Legal Services, the logjam has left many of her agency’s clients in terrible crisis. “It’s true all over the state,” she said. “A lot of my clients are using cell phones and they have limits on their cell phone minutes. We have some people who come to our office just to use a phone to call.”

Dietrich said she recognizes that the state is attempting to do more with less. But layoffs at call centers and cuts in the hours the jobless can get help –now a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday – restricting people who are seeking work.

She said, “I don’t think you can run a system where people can’t access the system.”

In brief, there aren’t sufficient people employed in trying to help the laid offs find the way to unemployment system.

According to Gourlet, the curbs have come in response to a $30 million drop in funds the state obtains from the U.S. government to manage unemployment compensation. As the state unemployment rate has dipped, together with the number of people filing for PA Unemployment benefits, so has the federal money for administration.

Gourlet recommended that the unemployed can call from the CareerLink Union Boulvard, which has a phone line with better chances of getting through to staff at the call centers.

The call center employee has also told Gourlet that the staffs are under guidelines to stay on the line when a call comes from a CarrerLink so the phone can be passed from one jobless person to another to another.

Gourlet, who said the state plans to include more temporary call center workers, said callers sometimes have shorter waits calling later in the day and later in the week. Other unemployed people have had some success calling their legislator to mediate.

Keep in mind; the Legislature previous year passed a law that in order to collect benefits, the laid offs must now be able to prove they have applied for three jobs per week as well as signed up for employment search services with the Pennsylvania CareerLink.

So how can we anticipate people to do a full-time job search if they have to use up business hours redialing when they have a question about their checks?

Direct Deposit Payment Method in Pennsylvania

Once if it is confirmed that you are eligible for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation after filing claim, your payment can be done in two ways either by depositing to your saving or checking account or by Direct Deposit.

The claimant can receive the payment to his existing savings or checking account. Once the amount is processed you can access the cash with your accessible ATM card.

The second option is Direct Deposit, which is the easiest and most convenient way to get your money transferred. If you are filing a new claim online you can enter your direct deposit information directly on the unemployment insurance application. To apply online you will need to provide the nine-digit bank routing/transit number and the checking/savings account number.

Direct Deposit in Brief

Direct Deposit is the transfer of benefits amount electronically into the qualified claimants savings or checking account. This is transferred by sending you Pennsylvania unemployment insurance benefits to the Federal Reserve and then to claimant’s financial institution.

The benefits of direct deposit

  • There are no checks to be lost or stolen.
  • Payments reach your account the day the check is issued — even if you are out of town, sick or unable to get to your financial institution.
  •  Many banks offer free or lower-cost checking for customers with direct deposit because it saves them the cost of processing paper checks.
  • Direct deposit can help you avoid bouncing checks because the deposit is direct and on time.
  •  It can save you trips to the bank and help you avoid long lines at tellers or ATMs.
  • The federal government and many employers will deposit your check a day early if the regular payday falls on a holiday.

How to choose the direct deposit as the payment option

In order to choose the direct deposit as the payment option of unemployment insurance benefit while filing your claim you need to follow the below stated steps:

  • Enter your Pennsylvania UI Website and login with existing password or create a login id and password by clicking on “Register Now” option
  • Remember to verify your Social Security Number and date of birth.
  • Select the “Choose Payment Option” generally which will be mentioned in the Main Menu.
  • Enter your personal identification number (PIN) and select the option “Change Payment Option to Direct Deposit.
  • Enter your bank account information: savings or checking selection, routing number, and account number
  • Check the box indicating you understand your payments will be sent to your bank account and submit

How to change the Payment Option

If you have doubt whether you can change the payment option, the answer is yes. You can change the payment option at any time during the time of your benefit year.

Option to change the option:

You need to go to “Choose Payment Option” in the main menu and change the option from Direct Deposit to Debit Card Payment option.

Essential details for Direct Deposit Payment

  • Bank name, street address, city, state and Zip Code.
  • Bank telephone number
  • Bank account number
  • Bank account routing number

Identifies your bank or financial institution. Your financial institution’s routing number is the nine-digit number that usually appears on the lower left portion of your personal check. Your savings account typically does not have the routing number listed, so you will need to contact your financial institution for its routing number.

Direct Deposit is the process by which unemployed would be allowed for the payment by his or her paycheck directly to the particular bank account. Remember that Employee authorization must be granted prior to a direct deposit payment. In few states direct deposit is mandatory but if employees do not have bank account then other option would be followed like pay cards.

Direct Deposit method is most supportive process for employee as well as employer as the employee does not want move all around to banks for depositing the paycheck. It is also not required for an employer to wait for the paper Checks and this is known as float. For an employee who works distantly is better to get his payment on his direct account directly on the payday itself without any tensions of mailing or shipping cost.

When could I Expect the Payment over Direct Deposit

You can expect your payment of direct deposit on your chosen account after completion of waiting week of seven days. The payment will be deposited into your savings or checking account two to three business days after each week.

Filing Interstate Unemployment Compensation in Pennsylvania

If in case you have worked in more than one state during base period then you would be eligible to claim the interstate unemployment compensation, in addition you need to fulfill certain PA unemployment claims eligibility criteria. Generally base period is calculated as the first four months of the past five calendar quarters.

Interstate Unemployment Benefits

In order to be entitled to claim an inter state unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania:

  • It is essential to have worked in the state Pennsylvania along with at least one other state.
  • You can also file the unemployment claim in Pennsylvania though you are not a resident of Pennsylvania but have worked in that state.

Claims for UI Interstate Benefits

Claims for benefits or waiting-period credit shall be filed by interstate claimants on uniform interstate claim forms and in accordance with uniform procedures developed pursuant to the interstate benefit payment plan.

Claims shall be filed in accordance with the type of week in the agent state. Adjustments required to fit the type of week used shall be made by the liable state on the basis of consecutive claims filed.

Commuter Claim

Commuter is considered for a person who lives in one State but goes to another State to work.

You will be eligible for the Commuter claim if you have frequently traveled across the state to work. You will be considered as a resident of the State where you worked, in case of a commuter claim.

To obtain the benefit for your commuter claim will be determined based on the status of the state where you worked and not the state where you lived.

Process of Claiming the Compensation

  • Pile Up the details of your work experience of past 18 months, which consists the details of contact address, phone number and the duration period worked.
  • Call the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Service Centre over phone on 888-313-7284 between 7 am to 8.30 pm on weekdays and on Sundays between 7 am to 2.30 pm.
  • Provide the details of your name, work history, contact details, along with your date of birth, Social security number and tell about the *combined wage claim* (since you worked for more than one state) to executive representative.
  • Once the above claiming process is done over phone, with the period of 30 days you are expected to know if you are approved for the benefit or not. If accepted your weekly benefit will also be intimated to you by mail.
  • Complete your weekly claim forms as they are sent to you. Repeat this every week until you get an appropriate job.

To file an application for unemployment benefits, you will be asked to provide:

  • Social security number
  • PA Department of Transportation photo ID
  • Alien registration number (for non-United States citizens)
  • The name and address of last employer (full or part-time)
  • Most recent pay stub

Combined Wage Claim and Inter-State Claim

If an individual has worked in more than one state, he may combine all of the wages earned in his base period either to qualify monetarily for benefits or to increase the amount of benefits to which he would be entitled.

Based on the interstate claim, your benefits are determined on the state you filed against, also known as “paying state.” This should also be the state where you live.

You are entitled to the amount of benefits available to workers in the paying state, even though your benefits are based in part on earnings from work in another state.

Interstate Claim of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides four tiers of unemployment extensions to applicants who have filed an interstate claim and has a different option to claim the benefit

By Mail

  1. Visit the website of Pennsylvania labor office. Download and print the EUC extension application.
  2. Fill the form legibly. Sign and mention date the bottom.
  3. Mail the form to the address mentioned on the form.



  1. Access Pennsylvania’s labor office website. Make use of your current username and PIN to log in.
  2. Find the way to the online benefit extension application. Complete the application and check the box indicating that the answers you presented are accurate to the best of your knowledge.
  3. Click “Submit to send your application to Pennsylvania.

By Phone

  1. Call Pennsylvania’s claims line. Log into the system with your Social Security number and PIN.
  2. Respond each of the questions that automated system asks you. Use the keypad as directed when confirming all of your answers are correct to the best of your knowledge.
  3. Press the proper key to submit your claim to the state.