State unemployment claims hit historic highs

BUSINESS. The New Jersey Department of Labor reported a record number of beneficiiaries and histsoric unemployment payments, even though the number of new weekly applications has fallen for the fifth straight week.

12 Jun 2020 | 02:50

    The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development again last week reported a record number of beneficiaries and historic unemployment payments, even as the number of new weekly applications fell for the fifth straight week.

    The number of individuals who claimed weekly benefits between March 15 and June 6 was 1,021,339, by far the largest volume of claimants the state Labor Department has ever served in such a short period of time. Of those, 94 percent have received payment, with an average weekly benefit of $1,050.

    During the same 12-week period, $6.25 billion in federal and state benefits has gone out the door and into the pockets of unemployed and underemployed New Jersey workers.

    “On the one hand, we have achieved so many milestones since COVID-19 shuttered our workforce – serving more than 1 million claimants and getting three new federal benefits programs up and running while paying record numbers of our traditional unemployment claims. On the other hand, there is so much more to do to ensure that every claimant gets their questions answered and receives their benefits in a timely fashion,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “As we begin to reopen our economy, and workers return to their jobs, I hope we learn from this pandemic to work with our federal partners to fortify our systems ahead of the next emergency.”

    For the week ending June 6, the Department received 23,166 new unemployment claims, a 13 percent decrease from the prior week, for a total of 1.2 million new claims since mid-March.

    Additionally, all 70,000 or so workers who had exhausted their benefits have been notified by email or text message to certify for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides 13 weeks of additional benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 37,000 have claimed benefits to date.