the staff of the Ridgewood blog
TRENTON NJ, The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development processed a record 1.1 million benefits certifications for the week ending Saturday, as the total amount of benefit payments surpassed $4.3 billion and nearly 90,000 claims were made newly eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The number of new applications for unemployment decreased to 34,410, the lowest weekly total since mid-March. Employees in casinos, retailers, food service contractors, restaurants, and airlines continue to be the hardest-hit industries.
Over the past 10 weeks, nearly 1.2 million workers who lost their jobs or had their hours reduced due to the pandemic have applied for unemployment benefits in New Jersey. During that period, 911,424 have claimed benefits.
Another 70,000 or so people who were unemployed before COVID hit, exhausted regular state UI benefits, and who continue to be unable to find work, are now eligible for 13 weeks of extended benefits through Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Those claimants began being notified of their eligibility last week in a rollout that will continue over the next few weeks.
“Our Department has made major strides over the past two weeks in getting more benefits to more eligible New Jerseyans,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We have cleared many of the claims that had issues, have now paid out most of the PUA claims, and have started to process extended benefits.”
Asaro-Angelo said the department’s focus now is addressing claims with complications – for example, the employer contests the separation, there are insufficient wages reported, or income information must be obtained from another state. There also may be remaining issues with an employee’s social security number, work status, or work history.
“We know how tough it has been for these claimants to try to stretch their last paycheck, or have to borrow money, or go to a food pantry, or delay paying their rent. We are trying to resolve their claim issues and pay all eligible claims quickly,” the Commissioner said.
The Department noted that 1.3 million weeks worth of PUA claims had been paid out on 316,000 claims from independent contractors and others who didn’t qualify under the state’s pre-COVID unemployment system. Among them are 86,261 claims eligible to certify for the first time last week.
The weekly totals of new unemployment claims for the 10 weeks since the virus impacted New Jersey’s workforce are:
|Week||New Unemployment Claims|
|March 29-April 4||214,836|
|April 26-May 2||88,326|
Eligible claimants have received $4.3 billion in benefits to date: $1.6 billion in state unemployment payments since mid-March: $2.5 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments and $247 million in PUA payments.
The breakdown of weekly payments (in millions):
|Week||NJ UI Payment||FPUC Payment||PUA Payment|
|March 29-April 3||$89.8||NA||NA|
|April 26-May 2||$171.7||$291.1||$27.1|
NA: Benefit not applicable during the indicated weeks.
FPUC, PUA and PEUC are federal programs authorized by Congress under the CARES Act. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly benefit to anyone collecting unemployment for weeks ending April 4 through July 25. PUA provides benefits to newly eligible populations such as self-employed workers, independent contractors and those who do not have enough recent earnings to qualify for regular unemployment benefits, as well as for newly qualifying reasons such as being unable to work because due to caring for others or for their own COVID-19 illness. PEUC provides the 13-week extension for those who have exhausted 26 weeks of unemployment.
For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, visit myunemployment.nj.gov. For more information on benefit extensions, visit: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/apply/extensions/
Claimants collecting unemployment must certify for benefits each week to continue to receive payments. Information on certifying for unemployment can be found here: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/schedule.shtml
Anyone looking for work is encouraged to visit New Jersey’s jobs portal — jobs.covid19.nj.gov — which matches jobseekers with immediate openings in industries such as food distribution, warehousing and health care.
*This represents the final number for the week ended May 23. The number listed for NJ by US Department of Labor – 33,290 – is based on advanced reporting.