Pennsylvanians intending to file weekly unemployment compensation claims, hang in there. Online access to the state Department of Labor & Industry will resume next week.

The department shut down its antiquated, 40-year-old computer system Thursday, so it can transition to a new one, which is expected to go live Tuesday. The existing system will be offline, L&I explained, “while data is migrated from the old system to the new one, which is the most complex part of any IT system upgrade.”

The department, overseen by acting secretary Jennifer Berrier, is touting the new system as one that will be “faster and easier to use.”

No claims will be filed during this down time, and the old system will be offline to claimants and staff. The UC Service Center, however, will be accessible by phone and email. Staff will take new inquiries from claimants and assist individuals who are experiencing issues.

Claimants who were scheduled to file a biweekly claim for the week of May 30 to June 5 were advised to file by 9 p.m. Wednesday, so it could be processed before the old system went down. Those who missed the deadline, however, can file once the new system is operational – although the payment date may be later.

Gas prices

Gasoline prices remained steady across Western Pennsylvania during the Memorial Day week.

A gallon of unleaded self-serve averaged $3.177 in the region, one-tenth of a penny lower than the previous week, AAA East Central reported. The agency monitors gasoline prices in 23 cities and towns in the region, where they have risen most weeks this year.

The new regional figure is 83.4 cents a gallon higher than it was a year ago, at $2.343.

Washington’s price was slightly above the regional average at $3.179. That was the seventh-lowest price in Western Pennsylvania. Bradford, Sharon and Warren shared the lowest price, $3.099; Clarion ($3.223) had the highest.

Pennsylvania’s average was $3.159, 1.8 cents cheaper than the Western Pennsylvania figure. The national figure rose one cent – to $3.04 – during the holiday week. Prices in most states remained steady or dropped, AAA reported.

That may change, however, as demand jumped by 9.4 million barrels a day during the week ending May 21. That was the highest reported figure since March 2020, and was up about 30% year over the year. AAA said that was an indication that motorists are filling up more frequently.

It also said gasoline supply and demand levels are trending toward typical summer numbers.

Broadband

Funding through the state’s Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program is available for projects to enhance high-speed broadband service infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas.

Nongovernmental entities within Pennsylvania can apply for funding through Sept. 24. The application period began Tuesday.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office reported “nearly a million Pennsylvanians lack access to broadband internet connectivity.”

Wolf said in a statement “since taking office, one of my biggest priorities has been to build out the infrastructure needed to connect all Pennsylvanians to high-speed broadband internet.”

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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