The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported more than 13,500 new unemployment applications last week, representing a 1,350-claim increase over the prior week, with federal pandemic jobless benefits set to expire at the end of the year.
The 11% uptick in weekly unemployment claims is due, in part, to new and re-opened claims by bus drivers and food service workers whose schools were closed over the Thanksgiving break.
Meanwhile, the Department also reminded independent contractors, those who can’t work because of COVID-19, and others who are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) that these benefits expire on Dec. 26. All eligible weeks prior to Dec. 26 will continue to be paid, even after the programs expire. Approximately 312,000 residents are currently receiving PUA; an additional 175,000 are receiving PEUC. Thus far, these federal benefits have not been extended or renewed by Congress.
“This pandemic isn’t done with us yet,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “As we see by the numbers of new and continuing claims, workers are still struggling under the weight of layoffs and reductions in hours, as well as the difficulty of finding a new job during COVID. We are improving our service delivery every week so we can answer more questions and resolve more complicated cases to get benefits into the bank accounts of people who desperately need them.”
The Department distributed $233 million in benefits during the week ending Nov. 28, and has sent a total of $19.5 billion to workers impacted by the pandemic. The Department will continue to disperse $300 FEMA Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments to eligible claimants who were unemployed between Aug. 1 and Sept. 5 until New Jersey’s federal allotment for the program is exhausted. To date, $1.3 billion has been distributed.
More than 1.8 million New Jersey workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March. Approximately 1.48 million applicants have earned enough income to qualify for benefits, and 96% have received payment. Claimants have received an average of $13,787 in benefits.
PUA, PEUC and FPUC were authorized by Congress under the CARES Act. The maximum eligibility for PUA is 46 weeks. PEUC provides an additional 13 weeks of federal benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Extended Benefits (EB) adds a final 20 weeks of state benefits. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provided $600/week unemployment supplement before expiring in July. LWA provided up to six weeks of supplemental benefits to people unemployed the weeks of Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 due to COVID, and who were eligible for at least $100 in weekly unemployment.
*This represents the final number for the week ending Nov. 28. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 12,873 – is based on advanced reporting.
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