ICYMI: U.S. Department of Labor Acts to Help American Workers And Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took a range of actions to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.
Reopening America’s Economy:
- Statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on the December Jobs Report – U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia issued the following statement regarding the December 2020 Employment Situation Report:
“[Friday’s] report shows that the economy generally continues to recover, but that employment in certain sectors and States remains challenged.
“The 140,000 jobs lost in December were driven principally by the loss of 498,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality; data from the Restaurant Law Center shows that in the reporting period, six states (Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Oregon) reduced indoor dining occupancy to zero. Fortunately, Congress finally enacted additional coronavirus relief at the end of December. The new $300 a week federal plus-up, combined with state unemployment benefits, will replace on average more than 90 percent of wages in leisure and hospitality jobs.
“Meanwhile, employment grew in December in six of the nine major industrial sectors that had significant changes, including manufacturing and retail. Also heartening is that with the unemployment rate unchanged at 6.7% and the workforce participation rate holding steady, job losses appear concentrated in temporary rather than permanent layoffs. The number of unemployed Americans not on temporary layoff dropped a whopping 534,000, the first drop in that figure since July.
“It also remains critical to realize that unemployment currently is particularly concentrated in certain States, just as it is concentrated in certain sectors. While the national unemployment rate in November was 6.7%, half the States were at 6% or lower. The Department’s next State-by-State report will issue January 26.
“As the Year 2020 ended, unemployment was more than 8 points lower than its peak in April, and is far lower than virtually anyone projected in April for the end of the year.
“The virus’s impact on employment reflects again the importance of distancing, mask-wearing, and other measures to reduce the spread, as well as the need to avoid excessive lock-down strategies that compound rather than mitigate this virus’s human toll. As distribution of vaccines continues through operation Warp Speed, it should be possible in the months ahead to restore millions more jobs, on top of the more than 12 million added back since the low-point in April.”
- The Employment and Training Administration released the following Unemployment Insurance Program Letters (UIPL).
- UIPL 12-01 Change 2 – States’ Ability to Exercise Flexibility in Staffing Models for the Performance of Certain Unemployment Compensation (UC) Administrative Activities been added to the ETA Advisory database and is now available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=8998
- UIPL 16-20 Change 4 – Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act of 2020—Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program: Updated Operating Instructions and Reporting Changes, has been added to the ETA Advisory database and is now available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=6973
- UIPL 15-20, Change 3 – Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers (Continued Assistance) Act of 2020 — Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program Reauthorization and Modification and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) Program Operating, Reporting, and Financial Instructions has been added to the ETA Advisory database and is now available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?docn=6122.
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $3,930,381 In Coronavirus Violations – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Dec. 31, 2020, OSHA has issued citations arising from 300 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $3,930,381.
Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned:
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has issued updated guidance that provides implementation information to states regarding two unemployment insurance programs: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor is focused on protecting the safety and health of American workers, assisting our state partners as they deliver traditional unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits, ensuring Americans know their rights to new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, providing guidance and assistance to employers, and carrying out the mission of the Department.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.