New unemployment claims in NJ surpass 500K

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Urban News Staff Reports

Nearly 215,000 workers applied for unemployment during the week that ended Saturday, raising the number of new jobless claims to 576,904 for three weeks starting March 15.

More than 90% of new unemployment applications are being filed online at myunemployment.nj.gov, which the Labor Department recommends for fastest, most efficient service.

Also recommended is that applicants read the department’s FAQs before filing a claim, to help ensure the application is filed correctly, which speeds processing time. The department is also backdating claims to ensure that no one loses a week of benefits, even if they can’t get through right away. More employees are being brought online to help triage the volume of claims.

The state paid $283.9 million in unemployment benefits for the five-week period from March 2 through April 3.

The number of new claims the Labor Department is receiving and the amount of benefits being paid to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans shows the system is working, but we understand that’s of little consolation if you’re out of work and waiting for your benefits,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

A breakdown of the claims that were processed from March 15 through April 4 shows the hardest-hit sectors have been food/accommodation  services, ambulatory health care (doctors’ and dentists’ offices) personal services (hair and nail salons) and temporary employment agencies.

Residents already collecting unemployment will begin to see their $600 supplemental unemployment benefit arrive April 14 (for the week of March 30th). It will be a separate payment and will continue to be paid for eligible weeks through July 25.

Other workers eligible for special unemployment compensation known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are urged to begin the process. Freelancers, independent contractors and gig workers should apply for unemployment now. Their standard unemployment claim will likely be denied, but being ineligible for regular unemployment is a federal prerequisite to being eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. These workers should also gather two years of income records, which will be used to calculate the amount of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance they are entitled to receive.

Meanwhile, New Jersey has stepped up its efforts to serve the unemployed by temporarily suspending the “work search requirement” for laid off workers and creating a jobs portal -- jobs.covid19.nj.gov -- to match those who are looking for work with nearly 50,000 openings in industries on the frontlines of the pandemic. Thousands of positions are available immediately throughout the state.The data released Thursday by the US Department of Labor also indicates that more than 276,000 residents are currently collecting unemployment, about 120,000 more than the prior week.

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