Unemployment claims in NJ surpass 1 million mark

New unemployment claims filed in New Jersey since mid-March have surpassed 1 million, a number officials say us an all-time record for the state. 

In the seven weeks since COVID-19 hit New Jersey, 1,018,785 unemployment claims have been filed.  

Officials said more than 642,000 residents are now receiving unemployment benefits in the state. An additional 72,000 federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims from independent contractors and self-employed residents were processed last week.  The state has created online guides to walk people through the weekly PUA certification process. Certifying for PUA benefits each week is required by federal law. Officials said the certification questions have been an obstacle for tens of thousands of residents who have answered a question incorrectly and had their payments delayed.  

Certification tips can be found online on the New Jersey Department of Labor website

“Our process is one we are required to follow to protect claimants, prevent fraud, protect the trust fund’s solvency and safeguard New Jersey businesses. It’s heartbreaking to hear tens of thousands of payments held up because of an unintentional certification mistake,” New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “It’s what motivates us to put the most useful information out there for our customers, and to make sure every eligible claimant collects their benefits as quickly as possible.” 

For the week ending May 2, initial unemployment claims were 88,326. The weekly totals of new unemployment claims since the virus hit are as follows:  

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 
April 19-25 71,996 
April 26-May 2 88,326 

Since mid-March, the state has distributed about $1.9 billion in benefits, including $900 million in state unemployment payments. A total of $989 million in supplemental payments has been distributed over the past four weeks. 

The breakdown of weekly state payments is as follows: 

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 
April 20-24 $211.1 million 
April 27-May 1 $171.7 million 

Last week marked the start of processing payments for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new federal program authorized by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These benefits are for self-employed, independent contractors, and those who do not have enough recent earnings to qualify for regular unemployment benefits. 

The CARES Act also authorized a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of New Jersey unemployment. Those benefits are expected to start being offered May 18 for those who exhausted their benefits since last July. For more information on eligibility,view extension guidelines on the state’s website.

The Labor Department has posted guides for self-employed, independent contractors and others who might be eligible for PUA that explain the benefits and walk them through the application process. Those guides can be found here: .  

Information on certifying for unemployment can be found at the Department of Labor’s online portal.

People collecting unemployment are also receiving a $600 supplemental weekly benefit through the end of July. Those payments arrive separately, after the regular unemployment payment. A separate application is not required. 

About 91 percent of new unemployment applications are being filed online at myunemployment.nj.gov. Officials said claims continue to be backdated to ensure that no one loses a week of benefits, even if they have difficulty getting through. 

Anyone who refuses work or voluntarily quits a job is ineligible for unemployment.


  1. Hello,
    I applied for uneployment in nj on march 15 finally got a email may 8 to certify for benftfits that day and my wbr still says 0 and it still want paid I was approved for pua

  2. my benefits were exhausted on April 11th 2020. I received two $600 payments during this period but haven’t received another since then. I understand that the 13 week UI was extended and will be started on the 18th of May. Will I start receiving both benefits when the benefits are resumed.

    1. That what i want to know i continue claiming but still im not gettingvpaid

  3. I applied for unemployment on March 20,2020. STILL NOTHING!! No email ( other than the weekly one telling you how to claim weekly) and no mail. My claim still says pending ! I’m a single mom with 3 kids and we are barely hanging on. I’m not even able to certify my weekly benefits for some reason. It says I need to speak with a representative. I wake up at 7:30am and make between 15-35 calls day to the different unemployment numbers. I know them all by heart. I really hope they get to all the back claims. My family and I have run out of money.

  4. My unemployment ran out 1/11/20 I started a new job as an independent contractor on 1/27/20 and not able To work since 3/19/20. Not able to get a hold of unemployment and not able to access my unemployment says need to speak to an agent. Please if anyone can help me or direct me I greatly appreciate it. My email is brojoa@comcast.net and my number is +16096652612. Thank You Joan Brown

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