– Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) was the guest speaker for the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce Red Carpet Breakfast on Thursday. Her remarks during the virtual event attended by local business leaders focused on Pennsylvania’s labor crisis.
“The Pennsylvania General Assembly has moved a lot of legislation over the last few years to remove many of the barriers to work and provide assistance to employers and jobseekers alike,” Toohil told the group. “That effort is ongoing and even more important now, as we concentrate on the Commonwealth’s post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Toohil said total employment for the Hazleton area was 36,076 in the third quarter of 2020, which was a 6.4% decline. Toohil talked about improving those numbers by creating more educational opportunities and urged business leaders to get involved.
“You as employers have to get in on the ground level, talking to students about work and jobs. We know that every year past the age of 14 that a student is not exposed to work makes it more difficult to get that young person to step into the workforce as an adult. It can also impact their productivity, reliability and trainability,” she noted.
Toohil also touched on the minimum wage debate and PennDOT’s controversial proposal to toll two interstate bridges in Luzerne County. Legislation was recently introduced that would reform the public private partnership (P3) transportation law, including the addition of provisions to halt PennDOT’s tolling plan unless the General Assembly approves it.
Also in attendance was Toohil’s invited special guest, Sheila Ireland, Department of Labor and Industry deputy secretary for workforce development.