The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has distributed a record $20 billion in wage replacement benefits in the 39 weeks since COVID-19 abruptly shuttered businesses and schools around the state.
The figure includes state payments and federal benefits authorized under the CARES Act, which enabled a whole new population of workers – including those who are self-employed or who can’t work because of COVID-19 – to collect, even if they never paid into the Unemployment Trust Fund. CARES Act funds expire on Dec. 26 unless Congress approves a new stimulus bill.
The Department received 16,368 new applications for unemployment during the week of Dec. 12, a slight (3.8 percent) decrease from the prior week. The total number of New Jersey workers having filed for unemployment since mid-March now stands at 1.86 million. The average benefit per claimant now exceeds $14,000.
“When we began the year at almost full employment, it was unfathomable we would be nearing year’s end having given out more than $20 billion in unemployment benefits to workers in need,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We are now getting ready to distribute additional aid, and are hopeful Congress will act.”
The Department is also preparing to process another round of FEMA $300 Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments this weekend for newly eligible claimants. Those benefits will reach the debit cards and bank accounts of recipients before Christmas.
PUA, PEUC and FPUC were authorized by Congress under the CARES Act through the end of the year. The maximum eligibility for PUA is 46 weeks. PEUC provides up to 13 additional 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.
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 Dec. 12. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 15,074 – is based on advanced reporting.
To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.