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28% of New Jersey’s labor force has applied for unemployment during COVID-19

NEW JERSEY – In the 13 weeks since COVID-19 shuttered New Jersey businesses and sidelined workers, 1.24 million employees – 28 percent of the current labor force – have filed for unemployment benefits.

The state saw 26,392 initial claims for the week ending June 13, a 14 percent increase over the prior week. During the height of the pandemic in late March, nearly 215,000 initial unemployment claims flooded in to the department in a single week.

As of June 13, New Jersey has sent $7.2 billion in benefits into the bank accounts of residents who are either out of work, or are working reduced hours.

Another metric state labor departments report to the US Department of Labor is “continued weeks claimed,” which is a count of the number of Unemployment Insurance weeks claimed in a given week, including back weeks. For the week ending June 13, New Jersey saw 1,036,000 continued weeks claimed in state and federal unemployment programs.

“The volume of claims continues to be staggering, well beyond anything the states could have been prepared for,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “It’s gut-wrenching to hear from people whose claim is not resolved, who can no longer make ends meet. We want those people to know we are making IT improvements every day, bringing on more people every day, to get to every claim still waiting for a determination.”

New Jersey stood up a new call center on Tuesday, augmenting the staff of agents who have been working overtime to settle claims and get people every penny they are eligible for.

The weekly totals of initial unemployment claims are:

March 15 – 21
155,815
March 22 – 28 206,253
March 29 – April 4
214,836
April 5 – 11 141,420
April 12 – 18
140,139
April 19 – 25
71,996
April 26 – May 2
83,326
May 3 – May 9 69,689
May 10 – 16 42,365
May 17 – 23 34,410
May 24 – 30 26,752
May 31 – June 6 23,166
June 7 – 13 26,392*
TOTAL 1,241,559

*This represents the final number for the week ended June 13. The number listed for NJ by US Department of Labor – 25,810 – is based on advanced reporting.  

Eligible claimants have received $2.4 billion in state unemployment payments since mid-March, $4.3 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments, $452 million in PUA payments, and $103 million in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).

Below is the weekly breakdown of  payments (in millions):

Week NJ UI Payment FPUC Payment PUA Payment PEUC Payment
March 16 – 20
$47.4 NA NA NA
March 23 – 27 $57.9 NA NA NA
March 30 – April 3
$89.8 NA NA NA
April 6 – 10
$140.7 $154.8 NA NA
April 13 – 17
$179.7 $238.8 NA NA
April 20 – 24
$211.1 $296.3 NA NA
April 27 – May 1
$171.7 $291.1 $27.1 NA
May 2 – May 8 $244.7 $502.4 $51.6 NA
May 10 -16 $239.7 $414.0 $55.6 NA
May 17 – 23 $236.2 $596.9 $112.3 NA
May 24 – 30 $242.7 $553.5 $87.7 NA
May 31 – June 6 $255.5 $635.2 $56.6 $56.6
June 7 – 13 $244.5 $573.8 $60.7 $46.5
TOTAL $2,117.1 $3,683.0 $390.9 $56.6

NA: Benefit not applicable during the indicated weeks.

FPUC, PUA and PEUC are federal programs authorized by Congress under the CARES Act. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly benefit to anyone collecting unemployment for weeks ending April 4 through July 25. PUA provides benefits to newly eligible populations such as self-employed workers, independent contractors and those who do not have enough recent earnings to qualify for regular unemployment benefits, as well as for newly qualifying reasons such as being unable to work because due to caring for others or for their own COVID-19 illness. PEUC provides 13 weeks of federal benefits for those who have exhausted 26 weeks of state unemployment.

For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, click here and for more information on benefit extensions, click here.

Claimants collecting unemployment must certify for benefits each week to continue to receive payments. Information on certifying for unemployment can be found here.

Anyone looking for work is encouraged to visit New Jersey’s jobs portal — jobs.covid19.nj.gov — which matches jobseekers with immediate openings in industries such as food distribution, warehousing and health care.For national unemployment data, click here and  for archived NJ claims data, click here.

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Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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