HARRISBURG - More than 100 workers with the state's Department of Labor and Industry will lose their jobs this month because of declining federal funds, according to department officials.
The affected workers will come from across the department's three major divisions: workforce development, unemployment compensation, and administration.
The furloughs will begin May 24. Originally, 108 workers were slated to be furloughed. That number has dropped to 105 due to retirements, said Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway.
The department has received declining federal dollars as stimulus funds have dried up, workforce development aid has gone down, and unemployment compensation administration alone took a $30 million hit from the federal Department of Labor, Hearthway said.
She said none of the affected employees work in the state's unemployment call centers, where Pennsylvanians call to file unemployment claims. Callers trying to reach those centers earlier this year had complained of lengthy busy signals.
She said every effort would be made to aid affected workers, such as helping them file unemployment claims and job search assistance.
"We don't do it without understanding the human element involved," Hearthway said.
A union official said 87 of the individuals are members of AFSCME Council 13, which represents many state workers.
"We are being told these are due to budgetary issues, not lack of work," said David Fillman, executive director of AFSCME Council 13. "Obviously, with the high unemployment rate, there would be plenty of work."
The state's unemployment rate in March was 7.9 percent, above the national rate of 7.6 percent.
Additionally, the state Auditor General's Office will likely have to furlough 50 to 70 people as of July 1, said spokesman Barry Ciccocioppo.
The job losses are due to flat funding in the state budget and rising employee costs that leave the office with a $3.5 million budget gap. It is not yet clear which positions will be affected, he said.