Business Report: Added unemployment benefits, refinery shutdown, tax credit available

Senate President Sweeney, other South Jersey lawmakers say they want to find a way to repurpose capacity at Paulsboro refinery

Unemployed workers who say they should have received money under the Lost Wages Assistance program will get another chance to certify for that benefit. The federal program provides an extra $300 a week for a total payment of up to $1,800. The state Labor Department is developing a process for the nearly 90,000 workers who failed to certify that their unemployment was COVID-19 related; they were required to do that in order to get the payments. The department says it will reach out by text and email to those who are potentially eligible.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and other South Jersey lawmakers say they want to try to find a way to repurpose capacity at the Paulsboro refinery owned by PBF Energy. This, after the company announced it would idle operations and lay off 250 workers due to a drop in the demand for fuel. Lawmakers called the decision a “dagger to the heart of the economic well-being of its workers, their families and the entire region.”

The state and advocacy groups are trying to get the word out about New Jersey’s Earned Income Tax Credit. That’s a tax break for low-wage earners, which can amount to thousands of dollars each year. But about a quarter of those who are eligible don’t apply. Thanks to an expansion in the program this year, even more residents are eligible, about 650,000 in all.