Trenton. NJ Labor Department processes 1.1 M weekly unemployment payments

| 28 May 2020 | 12:32

    The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development processed a record 1.1 million benefits certifications for the week ending Saturday, as the total amount of benefit payments surpassed $4.3 billion and nearly 90,000 claims were made newly eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    The number of new applications for unemployment decreased to 34,410, the lowest weekly total since mid-March. Employees in casinos, retailers, food service contractors, restaurants, and airlines continue to be the hardest-hit industries.

    Over the past 10 weeks, nearly 1.2 million workers who lost their jobs or had their hours reduced due to the pandemic have applied for unemployment benefits in New Jersey. During that period, 911,424 have claimed benefits.

    Another 70,000 or so people who were unemployed before COVID hit, exhausted regular state UI benefits, and who continue to be unable to find work, are now eligible for 13 weeks of extended benefits through Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Those claimants began being notified of their eligibility last week in a rollout that will continue over the next few weeks.

    “Our Department has made major strides over the past two weeks in getting more benefits to more eligible New Jerseyans,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We have cleared many of the claims that had issues, have now paid out most of the PUA claims, and have started to process extended benefits.”

    Asaro-Angelo said the department’s focus now is addressing claims with complications – for example, the employer contests the separation, there are insufficient wages reported, or income information must be obtained from another state. There also may be remaining issues with an employee’s social security number, work status, or work history.

    The Department noted that 1.3 million weeks worth of PUA claims had been paid out on 316,000 claims from independent contractors and others who didn’t qualify under the state’s pre-COVID unemployment system. Among them are 86,261 claims eligible to certify for the first time last week.