The number of new unemployment claims rose by 10% last week, to 27,168, the second straight week New Jersey has seen a jump in weekly claims.
The increase is primarily in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a federal benefit available under the CARES Act to help workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment. A 25% increase in new claims was recorded in the prior week, also due primarily to more people filing claims for PUA.
More than 1.6 million New Jersey workers have sought unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to close six-and-a-half months ago. Of those, 1.4 million have met the monetary requirements for eligibility, and 96 percent of them have received payment. The average claimant has received $11,808 in benefits.
“Newly laid off workers are anxious to know whether they are eligible for benefits and how much they will receive, so we are constantly improving technology and adding applications to get them answers,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Recent innovations by our I.T. team have enabled us to move thousands of appointments online and shave several weeks off the wait time to resolve certain complex claims.”
NJDOL has distributed $15.9 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits to workers who lost their jobs, were furloughed, or had their hours reduced in the pandemic, including $288 million for the week ending Sept. 26.
New Jersey is also starting to see workers exhaust their benefits. Last week, 3,050 claimants exhausted Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides 13 weeks of federal benefits for those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Most of them are able to transition to 20 weeks of state Extended Benefits (EB). Also last week, 54 individuals exhausted EB.
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