Record number of new unemployment claims (206K)

A record 206,253 new unemployment claims were filed for the week ending March 28, the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported.

The number brings the two-week total since COVID-19 really took hold in the state to just over 362,000.

There were a then-record 155,815 new claims filed the week ending March 21.

As a point of reference, the number of new claims over the past two weeks far surpassed the department’s highest total of single-week claims in recent years. Initial claims spiked past 46,000 in a single week after Superstorm Sandy in November 2012 — and shot up to 25,385 for a week in July 2010, the low point of the last recession.

Nationally, the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to more than 6.6 million, breaking a record high for the second week in a row. Last week, 3.3 million applied.

According to the state Department of Labor, a breakdown of the claims that were processed March 15-28 shows the hardest-hit employees worked in food services/drinking establishments, with 16.5% of claims; ambulatory health care services (doctors’ and dentists’ offices), with 11% of claims; and administrative and support services, with 7% of claims.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said he’s glad an additional $600 will be added to benefits beginning next week.

“We know a lot of people are hurting, so we are grateful to announce that financial help is on the way for workers upended because of this public health crisis,” he said in a release. “These unemployed workers now have access to emergency paid leave to care for themselves or a loved one, they are in line for a $600 per week supplement to their unemployment benefit, there’s a federal extension of unemployment benefits for 13 weeks, even for those whose claims have expired, and unemployment benefits are becoming available for freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors, who typically are not eligible.”

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