Over the last several months, I've occasionally heard the claim made that businesses can't find people to work for them, because they would rather collect unemployment benefits.

We want to hear from these employers, because we've got half a million people out of work right now that we can refer to you.

With four to five workers available for every job opening, I've personally spoken to many unemployed workers and I can tell you they want to work. They've reported sending out dozens of resumes a week. A few have commented that when they did get an interview, they were told they were "overqualified." Code for too old, they remarked. Tens of thousands of people have shown up at career fairs only to find very few employers are recruiting.

So, if you have a job opening call your local PA CareerLinkĀ® or call the customer assistance number at 1-866-858-2753. You can also search for your local PA CareerLinkĀ® at www.pacareerlink.state.pa.us [1].

Just for the record, if an unemployed worker did turn down a job because they could "make more" on unemployment compensation, the offer would be for less than half their former salary. The average weekly unemployment compensation amount is $310. That means the person's former wage was just over $32,000, and the alleged job "turned down" was for about $16,000.

Unemployed workers didn't create this economic crisis. Unemployment compensation is available to people who've lost their job through no fault of their own. Unemployed Pennsylvanians and Americans are our neighbors, our friends, members of our congregations. They didn't ask to be put in this position, but I'm sure they would be glad to be put into a position of family sustaining employment right now. Let's treat them with the dignity and respect they've earned and deserve.

Sandi Vito

Secretary, PA Department

of Labor & Industry