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Total Pandemic Relief to NJ Workers Nears $35B as Federal Benefits Expire

NJDOL delivered billions to many otherwise ineligible workers through temporary emergency programs created in response to Covid-19

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) announced that it has paid nearly $35 billion in Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to 1.6 million claimants from March 2020 through week ending Sept. 4.

This includes funds to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans otherwise ineligible for regular unemployment without the recently expired, emergency unemployment programs established under the federal CARES Act in March 2020, and renewed by the Continued Assistance Act in Dec. 2020 and again by the American Rescue Plan in March.

“Enhanced federal unemployment programs were critical to helping our state and the nation mitigate an economic crisis while controlling a public health crisis,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “While we are thankful, the fact that these programs were enacted as temporary emergency measures proves our outdated federal unemployment system is unable to meet the modern needs of our workforce.”

Regular state UI and extended benefits provided nearly $9 billion to New Jersey workers and families, while the temporary programs contributed almost $25 billion. In addition, more than $1 billion was paid to claimants under the Lost Wages Assistance program, which provided a $300 weekly supplemental benefit on top of regular UI for a maximum of six weeks through FEMA funds in fall of 2020.

The enhanced UI programs that expired Sept. 4 are: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who are not typically eligible for benefits; Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extended unemployment payments to those who already exhausted regular unemployment benefits; and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which added a weekly supplemental payment to regular unemployment.

Benefits under these programs cannot be claimed for weeks after Sept. 4, regardless of whether a balance appears in a claimant’s account. Claimants certifying for weeks prior to Sept. 4 will receive the enhanced benefits for a claim filed before Sept. 4, if eligible.

Claimants who exhaust their 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits after Sept. 4 and have not collected state extended benefits will transition to 13 weeks of state extended benefits, if eligible. These extended benefits were triggered in July 2020 due to the state’s high unemployment rate. Claimants moved to state extended benefits will see “Extended Unemployment Benefits” as their claim status in their accounts.

For the most up-to-date information on New Jersey unemployment insurance benefits, please visit myunemployment.nj.gov.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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