New unemployment claims in N.J. dropped by five percent last week

New Jersey saw a five percent decline in new unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 24, state officials said. The state received 27,201 new unemployment claims last week.

A total of 1.74 million New Jersey residents have applied for unemployment since mid-March, and 1.45 million people have met the requirements for benefits, state officials said. For residents who met the requirements, officials said 96 percent have received payments. 

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has distributed $1.2 billion in FEMA payments, bringing total unemployment benefits to $18.1 billion for jobless and under-employed workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FEMA payment, known as Lost Wages Assistance, is a limited-time federal program that paid a $300 weekly supplement to most workers unemployed during the weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 for a COVID-19 related reason. The maximum benefit is for six weeks, for a total of $1,800.  

Some Princeton area residents said earlier this week that they have not yet received their FEMA payment yet. State officials said that the Department of Labor completed a second round of FEMA payments for 88,000 residents on Wednesday and those payments will hit direct deposit accounts and debit cards in the coming days.   

The average unemployed New Jersey worker has received just over $13,000 in wage-replacement benefits since the pandemic began, officials said.