NJ unemployment claims surpass 550,000 as COVID-19 crisis continues

Another 140,139 residents of New Jersey filed unemployment claims last week, and the number of residents receiving weekly unemployment insurance claims increased to 556,000, officials said.

The number of people in the state receiving a weekly unempoyment payment represents a 560% jump over claims a year ago. 

Officials said the New Jersey Labor Department has distributed $1 billion in unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March. 

For the second week in a row, the number of new weekly claims hovered around 140,000 after two weeks in which the weekly volume of claims topped 200,000. The first full week of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of new claims rose more than 1,600 percent, to nearly 156,000 new claims for the week of March 15.  

More than 858,000 workers have filed for unemployment since March 15. 

Last year at this time, New Jersey had just over 84,000 workers collections unemployment. 

The weekly totals of new unemployment claims for each of the past seven weeks are as follows:  

March 1-7 7,996 
March 8-14 9,467 
March 15-21 155,815 
March 22-28 206,253 
March 29-April 4 214,836 
April 5-11 141,420 
April 12-18 140,139* 

Many residents who are self-employed and work as independent contractors have said that they have been unable to receive the unemployment payments that were promised last month.

“Our top priority has always been to get benefits into the wallets of everyone who deserves them as quickly as possible,” said New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We are working diligently on getting federal benefits to independent contractors, freelancers and self-employed workers whose incomes have dried up due to COVID-19, and continuing to reduce the number of claims requiring an agent review, so we can pay those workers quickly without running afoul of  U.S. Department of Labor requirements.” 

Officials said the New Jersey Labor Department is working to implement processes to administer Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and a companion program that offers a federal extension of benefits to those who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state unemployment. 

Earlier this week, the Labor Department posted simplified guides for independent contractors, freelancers, and self-employed residents that explain the benefits and walk them through the application process. Those guides can be found here: https://bit.ly/2VRSZUK. The Labor Department urges workers in this category to read both guides before submitting their application to avoid delays. 

New Jersey workers collecting unemployment also received their second $600 supplemental weekly benefit deposited in their accounts. The second supplemental payment was for the week ending April 11th. The additional benefit will continue weekly through the end of July.  

About 92 percent of new unemployment applications are being filed online at myunemployment.nj.gov.The department continues to backdate claims to ensure that no one loses a week of benefits, even if they haven’t been able to contact an agent. Anyone who refuses work or voluntarily quits a job is ineligible for unemployment.  

The state paid $604 million in unemployment benefits for the seven-week period from March 2 through April 17. About $394 million in supplemental payments has reached unemployed New Jersey workers in the past two weeks. 

The breakdown of weekly payouts is as follows: 

March 2-6  $42.9 million 
March 9-13  $45.9 million 
March 16-20  $47.4 million 
March 23-27  $57.9 million 
March 30-April 3  $89.8 million 
April 6-10 $140.7 million 
April 13-17 $179.7 million 

Anyone looking for work is encouraged to visit New Jersey’s jobs portal at jobs.covid19.nj.gov. The website matches jobseekers with tens of thousands of immediate openings in industries on the frontlines of the pandemic, such as food distribution, warehousing, and health care.

One Comment

  1. It’s time to get back to work.

    Protect the vulnerable, and let the rest of us take strides toward normalization.

    Remember when it was flatten the curve – slow the spread – avoid overwhelming the healthcare system? There’s a poster with the famous graphic on the kiosk at Nassau and Washington.

    From at least April 13, Governor Murphy changed the rhetoric to “hammer the curve into the ground.” Listen to the 4/13 press briefing, from 10m00s to 11m00s.

    The IHME model projections of ICU usage are wildly off, always have been, and are not updated with past reality. Predictions of the past are not that hard. Check for yourself at healthdata.org

    NJ hospitals are not overwhelmed. Right now – Thursday afternoon – there is exactly one hospital on diversion. Yes, it’s Princeton. There are a varied handful at any particular time. Check for yourself at hippocrates.nj,gov

    And the USS Comfort is leaving New York Harbor. Part of that capacity was serving NJ.

    No complaint for up to about April 13. Who could know the future for sure? After that time, the overreaction was apparent.

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