The Department of Labor and Workforce Development said yesterday it has received more than 2 million** initial applications for unemployment in the past 11 months, more than at any other point in history and a sobering reminder of the continuing impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey workers.
Sectors of the economy hit hardest by the pandemic are: leisure and hospitality; transportation, trade and utilities; and education and health services.
The number of new claims for the week ending Feb. 6 was 16,192*, an increase of 1,586 from the prior week, an 11 percent increase following three weeks of declining new claims. New Jersey’s unemployed and underemployed workers have received $22.4 billion in benefits since mid-March, or an average of $15,295 per claimant.
The Department was encouraged this week by a new bill in Congress to dedicate $500 million to the U.S. Department of Labor to standardize state unemployment systems, update technology nationally and to create a single customer interface for all 50 states, solutions Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo has been urging for months.
The Department also programmed the 11-week extension for most claimants, and they were notified to begin certifying again according to the schedule.
The 11 added weeks is one provision of the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act that extended federal benefits through March 13. Another provision provides a $300 unemployment supplement to unemployed claimants. A new federal pandemic relief bill is being discussed.
“My worry is that if Congress does not enact long-term relief before the current benefits expire workers across the country will face another lapse in benefits, which would devastate too many households,” said DOL Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
PUA and PEUC were authorized by Congress under the CARES Act through Dec. 26, then extended under the Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act through March 13, 2021. The maximum eligibility for PUA is now 57 weeks. PEUC now provides up to 24 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Extended benefits (EB) adds a final 20 weeks of benefits. The renewed FPUC benefit is a $300/week unemployment supplement for anyone collecting unemployment in any amount; the original program, which provided $600/week in supplemental benefits, expired in July. Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) was funded by FEMA and provided six weeks of supplemental benefits to people unemployed Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 due to COVID.
For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
Visit New Jersey’s jobs portal here: jobs.covid19.nj.gov.
*This represents the final number for the week ending Feb. 6. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 14,181 – is based on advanced reporting.
**This number includes 218,000 claims that have been reopened by residents who returned to unemployment after a period of employment within a calendar year, as well as claims that later turned out to be fraudulent.
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