Labor Dept.: Unemployment in N.J. tops 900K since COVID-19 hit

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced on Thursday more than 930,000 new unemployment insurance claims have been filed since COVID-19 hit New Jersey in mid-March.

The NJDOL also said this week it will begin the process of making payments toward those who are self-employed, independent contractors and others not eligible for standard unemployment. The NJDOL said there are roughly 200,000 of these applicants who have not received benefits yet.

“The department has worked hard over the past month to put the infrastructure in place to get this program up and running, despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “We know that people are anxious to receive these benefits — and we want to get benefits out the door as quickly as possible— but we had to build from scratch a process to determine eligibility, protect claimants’ personal information, prevent fraud and distribute these new benefits.”

For the week ending April 25, 71,966 new unemployment applications were filed in the state — the lowest weekly total since the pandemic began. During the first full week of COVID-19 (which ended March 15), the number of new claims rose more than 1,600% to nearly 156,000. Overall, nearly 622,000 people are currently collecting unemployment.

Nationally, approximately 3.84 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, a decrease of 603,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That figure has pushed the six-week total of coronavirus-related job losses in the U.S. to more than 30 million.

The number of weekly initial claims in New Jersey so far for the year, the NJDOL said, has topped 1 million, a 524% jump from last year.

Here’s New Jersey’s weekly totals of new unemployment claims since the virus hit:

March 15-21


March 22-28


March 29-April 4


April 5-11


April 12-18


April 19-25


The state said it paid out $1.4 billion in unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. The weekly breakdown is as follows:

March 16-20

 $47.4 million

March 23-27

 $57.9 million

March 30-April 3

 $89.8 million

April 6-10

$140.7 million

April 13-17

$179.7 million

April 20-24

$211.1 million

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