NEW JERSEY – The number of initial unemployment applications declined for the third straight week, with 2,000 fewer new claims recorded last week, as the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development continued its unprecedented disbursement of benefits, with $22 billion delivered to claimants since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
For the week ending Jan. 30, the Department reported 14,606* initial unemployment claims – a decrease of about 12 percent from the prior week. Nearly 2 million** initial unemployment claims have been received since mid-March. Eligible claimants have received $15,167 in benefits, on average.
The Department has also issued four weeks of supplemental $300 unemployment payments, made available in the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act, to claimants currently collecting unemployment benefits.
A majority of New Jersey claimants have had no interruptions in benefits since passage of the 11-week extension made available under the new stimulus legislation. However, less than 5 percent of our total number of claimants – about 75,000 claimants — are experiencing a lapse in benefits (as their previous eligibility expired) while the Labor Department reprograms its system to provide these additional weeks.
“I know this is of little comfort to the residents who are anticipating these added benefits, and many have expressed anger with us over the delay. Unfortunately, the relief wasn’t signed into law until the last possible moment, and many states, including New Jersey, are in the process of reprograming their systems. Claimants all over the country are facing the same situation,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said.
The new programming must undergo extensive tests to ensure claimants receive their entitled benefit amount.
Labor departments across the country are working to complete the programming to administer the 11-week extension of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) to claimants whose benefits expired prior to the new legislation.
*This represents the final number for the week ending Jan. 30. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 12,171 – is based on advanced reporting.
**This number includes 211,000 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.
PUA and PEUC were authorized by Congress under the CARES Act through Dec. 26, then extended under the Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act through March 13, 2021. The maximum eligibility for PUA is now 57 weeks. PEUC now provides up to 24 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Extended benefits (EB) adds a final 20 weeks of benefits. The renewed FPUC benefit is a $300/week unemployment supplement for anyone collecting unemployment in any amount; the original program, which provided $600/week in supplemental benefits, expired in July. Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) was funded by FEMA and provided six weeks of supplemental benefits to people unemployed 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.