NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has distributed $24.8 billion in unemployment benefits to workers in need since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the state’s economy one year ago.
Since many current claimants who filed for benefits a year ago are reaching the end of their benefit year, the department has developed an automated process to review these claims, as required by federal law. New Jersey is the only state to automate these reviews, and to file a new claim on behalf of claimants when necessary. Others are allowed to continue on their current claim.
“As we reach the grim anniversary of the shutdowns and layoffs caused by the pandemic, our commitment to our workforce has never been stronger,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “If you have been unemployed for a year, if your benefits have stopped and you don’t know why, or if you need new skills to re-enter the job market, I want you to know we are working day and night to serve you as quickly as possible.”
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11 – before the existing federal unemployment benefits expired, giving states lead time to reprogram its system to distribute the new benefits. The new law extends the suite of new federal benefits through Sept. 4, and continues the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. New Jersey is delivering these new benefits seamlessly to almost all claimants.
For the week ending March 13, new unemployment applications increased by 402, to 10,242 for the week, a 4.4 percent rise, after four consecutive weeks of declines. Last week, new claims dipped below 10,000 for the first time in a year. It was at this time one year ago that NJDOL experienced the start of an onslaught of new claims unlike anything previously imagined. A total of 2,056,379** unemployment claims have been received since.
The department distributed $468 million in benefits for the week, including $24 million in FEMA Lost Wages Assistance payments for claimants who became eligible for this benefit retroactively since the last time payments were processed. A final run of these payments will occur this weekend to close out the program, for which New Jersey was allotted $1.5 billion. Those payments will be in direct deposit accounts or on debit cards by Tuesday for most eligible claimants.
Here are the week-by-week totals of new unemployment claims:
*This represents the final number for the week ending March 13. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 8,855 – is based on advanced reporting.
**This number includes 243,891 claims that have been reopened by residents who returned to unemployment after a period of employment within a calendar year, as well as claims that later turned out to be fraudulent.
Here is the breakdown of weekly benefits payments to eligible New Jersey workers:
The American Rescue Plan signed March 11 extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – the $300 supplement – to eligible claimants for 25 weeks, through Sept. 4.
The maximum eligibility for PUA is now 75 weeks. PEUC now provides up to 49 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Extended benefits (EB) adds a final 20 weeks of benefits, though that will drop to 13 weeks once the economy recovers sufficiently. The $300 FPUC supplement is for anyone collecting unemployment in any amount. There is also a provision in the new rescue law that excludes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits from having to be reported as income on federal taxes for households earning less than $150,000/year.
For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
Visit New Jersey’s jobs portal here: jobs.covid19.nj.gov.
For national unemployment data, visit www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf and for archived NJ claims data, visit https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/DataDashboard.asp.