Murphy: Ability to process unemployment claims for self-employed, independent contractors will bring more relief

Most of the unemployment claims that have not been processed are from the self-employed and independent contractors, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.

Murphy, speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, credited the Department of Labor & Workforce Development with getting benefits totaling $1.4 billion to more than 622,000 people.

File photo
Gov. Phil Murphy at a daily COVID-19 briefing.

Many of the claims that have not been processed fall under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was only activated this week. Murphy said the delay was caused by the fact the department had to create a new system — this program was created through the CARES Act — and do so while handling an overwhelming number of claims.

Those claims are starting to be processed today, and over the weekend, bringing hundreds of millions of additional dollars to New Jerseyans’ wallets, and significantly reducing the number of claimants who had not yet received benefits,” he said.

Murphy reiterated that the Department of Labor is facing an unprecedented surge in claims. An additional 71,966 claims were filed for the week ending April 25, bringing the total since mid-March to 930,000.

The number of weekly initial claims for the year now tops 1 million, a 524% jump from a year ago.

Murphy said the department is moving at a top speed. And that the system takes weeks to process in normal times.

“It’s also important to remember that — even in normal times — it takes three weeks to process an unemployment claim, after all the required information is received,” he said. “When claims are coming in the tens, or hundreds, of thousands a week, the denominator of who hasn’t received benefits yet is always going to be a big number.

“It takes longer when there is missing income information, or when there’s a separate claim filed in another state.  But I note, as I have before, that every New Jerseyan eligible for unemployment benefits will receive every dollar they qualify for.”

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