New unemployment claims in N.J. increase after four weeks of declines

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development received 10,242 new unemployment claims last week, a 4.4 percent increase after four consecutive weeks of declines.

The department distributed $468 million in benefits for the week, including $24 million in FEMA Lost Wages Assistance payments for workers who became eligible for this benefit retroactively since the last time payments were processed. A final run of these payments will occur this weekend to close out the program, for which New Jersey was allotted $1.5 billion. Those payments will be in direct deposit accounts or on debit cards by Tuesday for most eligible workers, officials said. 

A total of 2,056,379 unemployment claims have been received by the New Jersey Department of Labor since the pandemic hit the state last year. The department has distributed $24.8 billion in unemployment benefits to workers since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the state’s economy a year ago. 

Many current claimants who filed for benefits a year ago are reaching the end of their benefit year. Officials said the department has developed an automated process to review the claims and file a new claim on behalf of claimants when necessary. 

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11 before the existing federal unemployment benefits expired. The new law extends new federal benefits through Sept. 4, and continues the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. 

The week-by-week totals of new unemployment claims:  

The breakdown of weekly benefits payments to eligible New Jersey workers: