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PA Labor And Industry Secretary: It ‘Is Possible’ Some Eligible For Weekly $300 Might Not Get It

J. Scott Applewhite
The federal Lost Wages Assistance Program, which offers an extra $300 per week to qualified unemployment recipients, has run out of funds earlier than expected.


On today's program: A federal emergency assistance program for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic is running out of money well ahead of schedule; voters can choose from multiple ways to cast their ballots this November; and local arts organizations say they’ve been harmed by a ticketing service that’s not holding up its end of the deal.

FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance Program runs out of funds earlier than expected
(00:00 — 7:10)

The federalLost Wages Assistance Program was meant to give unemployed Pennsylvanians an additional $300 a week. Those who qualify for the program should be getting their first checks this week, says state Labor and Industry SecretaryJerry Oleksiak.

But the extra payments come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which told states earlier this week that the qualifying period would be August 1 to September 5—not the end of the year, as was hoped.

With the state’s unemployment rate hoveringbelow 14 percent, Oleksiak says many Pennsylvanians will need assistance for a while.

“We are doing all we can to get them the benefits to which they are entitled,” Oleksiak tells The Confluence. “But, we are going to need help from the federal government to continue to provide the level of support we have been providing.”

Becausethe FEMA-run program is running out of money, some who qualify might not get the extra $300 per week.

“Unfortunately that is possible, that is why we are encouraging everyone who is eligible to apply as quickly as possible,” says Oleksiak.

Information on eligibility requirements and questions about the unemployment process can be found on the state’sunemployment website.

To make your vote count, follow the directions carefully, says county solicitor 
(7:11 — 13:31)

The pandemic introduced a number of complications when it comes to voting. There arevarious lawsuits and multiple ways for voters to cast their ballots. 


“For November, all 1,300-plus polling places will be open, so if people want to use that option they can,” saysAndy Szefi, the Allegheny County solicitor. “Also, for the first time in a general election is the option for mail-in voting—no excuse mail-in voting.”

Szefi says voters who want to be sure their mail-in ballot counts should request and submit their ballot as far in advance of the deadline as possible, and follow the directions on the ballot very carefully.

“Don’t subject your ballot to any kind of challenge, and if you follow those instructions there shouldn’t be any issues with it,” he says.  

The deadline toregister to vote in Allegheny County is October 19, 2002, and the deadline torequest a mail-in ballot is before 5 p.m. on October 27, 2020.

Pittsburgh arts groups say online ticketing service failed to pay money owed
(13:33 — 17:48)

Many small and mid-sized nonprofit groups use online ticketing agencies. But 90.5 WESA’sBill O’Driscoll reports arts organizations in Pittsburgh say they are among hundreds harmed when one such service didn’t uphold its end of the deal. 


The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
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