Business Report: Unemployment claims, spending priorities, congestion pricing plan

Over the past five weeks, 246,000 residents hit the one-year mark on collecting unemployment

The number of New Jersey workers filing new unemployment claims has risen for two weeks in a row. The State Labor Department says it received nearly 20,000 new claims in the most recent week. Nationally, jobless claims also rose. Over the past five weeks, 246,000 residents hit the one-year mark on collecting unemployment. That requires a federally mandated review. The Labor department says New Jersey is the only state to have automated that process, enabling a quick review and continuation of benefits for those impacted.

Republican state lawmakers say some of the billions of incoming federal COVID-19 relief funds should be spent on restoring stability to the state’s unemployment insurance fund. They say that would prevent a planned tax increase on businesses, which was going to be used to replenish the fund. They also want $1 billion to go to businesses and nonprofits to help them cover revenue losses due to the pandemic. And they want $1.5 billion spent on capital improvement projects around the state. New Jersey is on track to receive over $6 billion from the American Rescue Plan.

Two New Jersey congressmen are fighting the new congestion-pricing plan proposed by New York. The plan would charge drivers extra to travel into midtown Manhattan. At a news conference in Fort Lee Friday morning, Rep. Josh Gottheimer said it would amount to a new tax on state residents. None of the money raised would go to New Jersey and all of it would be used to fund New York’s mass transit system. Gottheimer and Rep. Bill Pascrell are asking the U.S. Transportation secretary to stop the plan from moving forward until public hearings can be held.

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