ISSUE 99 | March 12, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Help available for renters struggling due to the pandemic
The Commission on Economic Opportunity has begun to accept applications for rental assistance on behalf of Luzerne County’s Office of Economic Development.

Renters who have experienced financial hardship – such as unemployment or a loss of income – due to the pandemic may qualify for assistance with rent and utility payments.

Eligible renters must also be able to demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability.

PA county nearly broke amid energy revenue decline 
Greene County, located in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, is struggling to balance its budget after the decline of the coal industry and loss of natural gas revenue.

The county has increased its property taxes for the first time since 2010 so that it can continue providing essential services to its residents. Greene County’s economic challenges are similar to those of other rural counties throughout the commonwealth. 

School leaders consider strategies for funding use
The new federal stimulus bill will make an unprecedented amount of funding available to Pennsylvania’s schools.

Leaders are working to determine the best way to spend this money before the 2023 deadline.

Experts have proposed ideas such as improving school facilities to ensure healthy learning environments, and implementing programs to help students whose educations suffered over the last year. 

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ face barriers amid application for disability benefits
For hundreds of thousands of people around the world, COVID-19 has been a long-term illness with prolonged symptoms, with some unable to continue working.

COVID “long haulers” in the United States face challenges when applying for disability benefits; they are often unable to prove their illness, and navigating the process can be overwhelming for people who are sick.

Mothers regaining jobs while managing pandemic burdens at home
According to a new analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau, mothers have been returning to paid work and are no longer disproportionately affected by the pandemic in terms of unemployment.

Most children are still not in school full time, however, and mothers have been likelier than fathers to take manage responsibilities related to childcare and education.

As a result, gains in employment suggest that more mothers are taking on paid work in addition to the increased and inequitable distribution of duties at home.  

Benefits of expanded tax credit outweigh employment impact
The American Rescue Plan – signed into law Thursday – includes an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which will increase the amount families receive per child and make the full benefit available to more families.

Some critics have expressed concern that the expanded credit would discourage work, but a report from the National Academy of Sciences found the program’s ability to reduce child poverty would likely outweigh any negative impact on employment.

Research Spotlight: The Institute's latest Economy Tracker details how COVID-19 has affected financial stability and food security. It also features labor market data - including the female share of employment-related to wage growth.

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