NEW JERSEY –The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has paid out $3.4 billion unemployment benefits as the global pandemic COVID-19 closed out its ninth week of wreaking havoc on the state’s workforce and economy. More than 1.1 million new unemployment claims have been received since March 15.
More than 42,000 new applications for unemployment were received last week, as the Department moved 139,000 federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims to payable status, and began reviewing tens of thousands of older claims for extended benefits.
For the week ending May 16, unemployed and underemployed workers claimed more than 902,000 weeks worth of benefits, including back weeks, for a weekly payout of $710 million in federal and state funds.
“We’re very pleased to see the balance begin to shift this week with the number of new claims trending downward and the number being processed curving upward,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Our only focus remains getting benefits into the bank accounts of every worker as quickly as possible.”
The Department this week stepped up its communications with claimants, letting them know by email and text message the status of their application and when they could expect to begin claiming benefits.
Among those beginning to be notified by NJDOL are those who have exhausted their 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, and are now eligible for federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which could extent their benefit eligibility for an additional 13 weeks. The first group of these workers will be able to certify for benefits on Sunday; the process will be ongoing for a few weeks.
For the week ending May 16, new initial unemployment claims were 42,365*, the lowest weekly total of new claims since mid-March. The weekly totals of new unemployment claims for the nine weeks since the virus began impacting New Jersey’s workforce are:
|March 15 – 21
|March 22 – 28||206,253|
|March 29 – April 4
|April 5 – 11||141,420|
|April 12 – 18
|April 19 – 25
|April 26 – May 2
|May 3 – May 9||69,689|
|May 10 – 16||42,365*|
*This represents the final number for the week ended May 16. The number listed for NJ by US Department of Labor – 41,323 – is based on advanced reporting.
Eligible claimants have received $3.4 billion in benefits to date: $1.4 billion in state unemployment payments since mid-March, $1.9 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments and $134 million in PUA payments.
The breakdown of weekly payments (in millions):
|Week||NJ UI Payment||FPUC Payment||PUA Payment|
|March 16 – 20
|March 23 – 27||$57.9||X||X|
|March 30 – April 3
|April 6 – 10
|April 13 – 17
|April 20 – 24
|April 27 – May 1
|May 2 – May 8||$244.7||$502.4||$51.6|
|May 10 -16||$239.7||$414.0||$55.6|
FPUC and PUA are new federal programs authorized by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly benefit to anyone collecting unemployment for weeks ending April 4 through July 25. PUA which provides benefits not just to newly eligible populations such as self-employed workers, independent contractors or those who do not have enough recent earnings to qualify for regular unemployment benefits, but also for newly qualifying reasons such as being unable to work because due to caring for others or for their own COVID-19 illness.
For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
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.