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Pa. Labor Secretary: Unemployment Compensation System Is 'Wounded'

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - As state budget hearings began last week, the secretary of Labor and Industry minced no words as she characterized the status of Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation system.

Secretary of Labor and Industry Kathy Manderino appeared before the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee. She called the state's unemployment compensation system the "elephant in the room."

"Mr. Chairman, we are operating a wounded system. The patient is bleeding out on the gurney," said Manderino.

Manderino says the system was functioning very effectively until mid-December, when a dispute between Senate Republicans and Gov. Tom Wolf over state funding for the system led to hundreds of layoffs and the closure of several unemployment call centers.

"We have had wait times on our telephone calls as high as a disgusting six hours – if people can get through," said Manderino.

Manderino says while things have improved a bit recently, the situation is likely to worsen again at the beginning of April when the new quarter begins and more people are eligible.

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