Initial unemployment claims dropped by 15% last week, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Still, almost 28,000 new unemployment claims were filed, bringing to 1.3 million the number of claims since the start of coronavirus-related shutdowns in March. Since then, state and federal payments to unemployed and underemployed New Jerseyans have exceeded $9 billion.
The state labor department has announced it will begin providing 20 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted 26 weeks of state unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The additional 20 weeks brings to 59 the maximum number of weeks of benefits an eligible claimant may receive. Enrollment for the extended benefits is automatic; claimants do not need to contact an agent or reapply.
“New Jersey went from being at almost full employment last winter to double-digit unemployment a few months later,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Extended benefits are in place for just such eventualities — so that claimants have access to an income safety net for an extended period during times of high unemployment.”