The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported a slight uptick in initial unemployment claims last week – the fourth straight week of increases – as pandemic-related benefit distributions approached $21 billion.
Initial weekly unemployment claims totaled 21,833* for the week ending Jan. 9 — an increase of 4 percent, or 847 claims, over the prior week — with the total number of initial claims for benefits now topping 1.94** million since mid-March. More than $20.9 billion in benefits have been distributed to New Jersey workers; the average claimant has received $14,505 in benefits.
“As we see every week based on how many new unemployment claims we receive, COVID-19 has flipped the economy on its head and led to unimaginable numbers of workers seeking vital, family sustaining economic benefits. Our Department continues to use every resource at its disposal to respond to this unprecedented crisis, and help workers get back on their feet through training opportunities and virtual career services,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
For additional information on workforce opportunities, please visit careerservices.nj.gov.
Under the expanded CARES Act, 460,000 claimants currently collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), plus 80,000 claimants collecting Extended Benefits (EB), are eligible for an 11-week extension, and are seeing no interruption in benefits. They should continue certifying for weekly benefits.
Approximately 33,000 claimants have exhausted their initial PUA, PEUC or Extended Benefits. They will experience a lapse in payments while NJDOL awaits guidance from the US Labor Department on how it is allowed to distribute these benefits. The Department has communicated with this group of claimants and they will be notified when they can resume certifying for weekly benefits.
The Department, meanwhile, hopes to process the newly available federal $300 supplemental unemployment benefit over the weekend. An unforeseen complication delayed running the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program last week as planned. No one will miss any weeks of eligibility.
The FPUC supplemental benefit is for anyone collecting at least $1 in unemployment, and is in addition to their regular benefit payment. The first allowable week of the $300 supplemental benefit was the week ending Jan. 2, 2021.
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