Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate declined three-tenths of a percentage point over the month to 3.5% in July, the lowest rate on record (back to January 1976). The U.S. unemployment rate was also at 3.5%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from June. The Commonwealth’s unemployment rate was 0.8 percentage points below its July 2022 level of 4.3%, and the national rate was unchanged over the year. Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force – the estimated number of residents working or looking for work – was down 9,000 over the month. Resident employment rose by 6,000 over the month and unemployment fell by 15,000. 

  Governor Josh Shapiro has signed a major expansion into law Friday that will help thousands of older and disabled Pennsylvanians.  The new law will help them qualify for a landmark state property tax rebate program, which provides a partial refund on rent or property taxes paid in the previous year.  An estimated 173-thousand households will be newly eligible, while roughly 400-thousand current recipients will get a higher dollar amount in their rebates.  Expanding the program fulfills a key campaign promise for the Democratic governor.  The law hadn’t been updated in almost 20 years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued a Code Orange air quality alert for parts of Western Pennsylvania.  Today’s alert covers Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties.  The Pennsylvania DEP says the alert is being issued in part due to increasing temperatures along with smoke expected emissions.  A Code Orange is called when the air is viewed as posing a risk to those who may have sensitive systems.  The department recommends that young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems limit outdoor activities today.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal is sharing more details on the deadly house explosion in Plum.  Investigators say three of the homes that were damaged in the incident are going to be demolished.  Another ten also saw damage and those homeowners will need to work with a structural engineer to determine how to move forward, according to the fire marshal.  The cause of the blast remains under investigation.

One person was taken to the hospital following a three vehicle crash in Wilmington Township.  State Police report 37 year old Tylon Cousin of Hermitage was traveling east on route 208 when he struck a vehicle from behind operated by 58 year old Lori Sevin of New Wilmington.  Cousin’s vehicle was then struck behind by a vehicle operated by 19 year old Camryn Kollar of New Wilmington.  Cousin was taken to the Shenango Valley Medical Center for treatment.  No other injuries were reported.

Health insurers want to boost premiums for people and small businesses that are buying policies under the Affordable Care Act in 2024. But insurers are asking for lower increases than they sought in 2023. The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance says they’re asking for an average hike of four-point-two-percent for individual policies and four-point-one-percent for small-group policies, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance. State regulators are taking public comment on the proposed premium adjustments until September 8th.

State Police in Mercer County report a two vehicle accident in Wilmington Township. According to police 76 year old Rodney Gladd of Clintonville pulled from the intersection of Leesburg Station Road and New Castle Mercer road and struck a vehicle operated by 46 year old Becky Sabo of Volant.  Both drivers and a passenger in the Sabo vehicle were taken to the Allegheny Health Network in Grove City for treatment.

A Lockport, New York man faces a number of charges following an incident that took place in Forward Township.  State Police in Butler County report 57 year old David Sawyer faces a number of charges including strangulation. Police continue to investigate the incident.

A Unity man is spending time behind bars for his role in a cryptocurrency theft scheme.  A federal judge sentenced 26-year-old Anthony Faulk to three years in prison during a hearing last week.  Investigators say he and two other individuals gained access to victims’ cell phones by scamming service providers and were able to steal money from crypto accounts.  Faulk has also been ordered to forfeit nearly 20-million dollars in assets, including his home and three vehicles.

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