Unemployment Increases Again as Murphy is Being Sued Over Business Closures

Approximately 42,000 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment the week ending May 16, bringing the total number of unemployed residents here to 1,130,839 since the March 15 business shutdown began, the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (LWD) said today.

Citing additional U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released this morning, New Jersey LWD Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said at today’s COVID-19 press conference: “Employment in the Garden State has been reduced to a level not seen since February of 1992. This monthly jobs drop off was not unexpected due to the public health emergency.”

Economic Restart

Gov. Phil Murphy said today that not only did the Restart and Recovery Commission have its second full meeting, but that in collaboration with the commission and its advisory councils, the state is contacting thousands of businesses and nonprofit organizations with a survey to “better inform our collective efforts as we look to take the next steps along the ‘Road Back.’”

“We know that the impacts of COVID-19 have been varied across industry sectors, and while these sectors are represented in the panels we brought together, nothing beats the input from those living this reality,” Murphy said during the conference.

Separately, a widely reported lawsuit filed today by state Republicans and business owners challenged Murphy’s executive order shutting down non-essential businesses. The plaintiffs are suing Murphy and several administration leaders, claiming, in effect, that Executive Order No. 107’s classification of some businesses as “essential” and others as “non-essential” is not only arbitrary, but conflicts with the state Constitution’s Equal Protection clause as well as the right to due process.

Public Health Update

At the press conference, Murphy said overall, “Each day brings with it surer signs that we are moving closer to being able to enter Phase 2 of our economic restart, but we also have to balance this reality [that] among our neighbors and among other major states, we still lead in some [COVID-19]  indicators that we would rather not.”

COVID-19 data released today included hospitalizations that decreased to 3,208 (a decline of approximately 200 when compared to the day before) and that there were 700 patients on ventilators (down from 50 the day before).

Murphy said, “The number of patients reported in either critical or intensive care is now below 900, and sits at 896. And for as long as we have been reporting this indicator at these briefings, I do not recall the last day when we had fewer than 900 residents in the ICUs.”

That said, there were 1,304 new positive COVID-19 test results reported overnight, and 98 COVID-19 fatalities, for a total of 10,843 deaths statewide since the pandemic first struck New Jersey.

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