Business Report: Unemployment benefits, job losses, predatory lending

There’s some very welcome relief for hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers in New Jersey. The state Labor Department says those residents will begin receiving their $300 in supplemental federal benefits early next week. This money is the result of the expanded CARES Act that was signed into law late last year. The state says it will begin processing the payments over the weekend and claimants should see the money next Tuesday. This CARES ACT payment is in addition to state unemployment benefits.

The year is starting off with discouraging news on jobs as the pandemic continues to impact employment. New Jersey-based ADP reports that U.S. companies slashed jobs in December as 123,000 positions were eliminated, marking the first month of employment declines since last April. Most of the job cuts came at large companies. The report caught economists by surprise as they were expecting job gains.

The ongoing pandemic will also create some challenges when Gov. Phil Murphy and state lawmakers begin work on a new state budget in a few weeks. The revenue outlook is uncertain, and while the state recently borrowed $4 billion, that was to plug last year’s budget gap. On top of that, the state is due to make a big pension contribution.

New Jersey is joining eight other states in another lawsuit against the Trump administration. The suit challenges a new federal rule that the states say would limit their efforts to protect against predatory lending.