Harrisburg, Pa. -- The recipients of the Hazard Pay Grant were announced yesterday by Governor Wolf. The $50 million grant, which will provide hazard pay to essential and front-line workers in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, was announced by the Governor last month.
The deadline for the grant application was Jul. 31. Only owners of eligible businesses, not individual employees, were able to submit the application.
According to Governor Wolf's office, the administration received more than 10,000 applications totaling nearly $900 million during the two week application window. Of those applications, more than 5,000 businesses requesting $300 million were eligible.
A total of 639 employers were awarded $50 million in allocated funding which will be used to support a $3 per hour increase in pay for 41,587 workers across the seven eligible industries:
- Health Care – 63.5 percent ($31.75 million)
- Food Manufacturing – 7.2 percent ($3.6 million)
- Food Retail – 8.2 percent ($4.09 million)
- Social Assistance – 12.6 percent ($6.3 million)
- Janitorial – 3.7 percent ($1.84 million)
- Transportation – 1.2 percent ($592,000)
- Security – 3.6 percent ($1.8 million)
A complete list of awardees is available and shows many small businesses in the local area received funding for their employees.
Kirk Fisher, the owner of Homewatch Caregivers in Williamsport, applied for the hazard pay grant after his employees mentioned it to him. Fisher said his business received $85,000 in funding, which will be used to pay his staff of about 81 caregivers an additional $3 per hour.
Fisher's clients rely on the caregivers assistance and the staff members have continued to provide essential in-home care services throughout the pandemic. Fisher said he is glad his employees will be receiving the additional compensation.
"As a business owner it makes me happy," Fisher said. "The front line workers do all the heavy lifting and it's nice they will be rewarded."
According to the administration, additional factors were taken into consideration for final determination of awards to ensure equitable distribution of funds. These factors included the amount of dollars requested within each industry category; the risk level, in accordance with the OSHA Worker Exposure Risk; wage level of industries and occupations; and availability of other federal funding relief opportunities.
“Recognizing the risk our frontline workers take every day must include more than just wearing masks and social distancing in their places of employment; it must include fairly compensating them for the risk they take,” said state Rep. Kyle Mullins (D-Lackawanna). “We also must recognize that the demand for hazard pay far exceeded this program’s capacity, showing that our efforts on behalf of these employees must reach more workers in more professions.”
Although many workers in the state will be receiving the grant funded hazard pay, large populations of front line workers, like employees of large grocery chain stores, in the state will have to rely on the kindness of their employers for additional aid and compensation.
State Representatives and the Governor recognized that many front line workers will not benefit from the Hazard Pay grant. As a source of additional funding to provide compensation for essential workers, they are turning to the HEROES Act, which is intended to supplement the CARES act stimulus which was passed by Congress at the beginning of the pandemic.
“The demand for this program indicates the need for additional funding to support these critical front-line workers, who selflessly helped their fellow Pennsylvanians through the toughest times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Gov. Wolf. “I support the Heroes Fund, in the bi-partisan Federal HEROES Act, which would provide $200 billion in hazard pay to life-sustaining workers. My administration is also open to working with the state legislature to allocate additional federal dollars toward hazard pay for additional workers and industries.”
The Hazard Pay funding builds on the programs the state developed to allocate CARES Act funding for impacted businesses across the commonwealth, including $225 million for Small Business Assistance, $40 million for the dairy industry, $20 million for cultural organizations and museums, and $10 million for the Fresh Food Financing Initiative.