Labor Dept: Unemployment in N.J. tops 1M, payouts close to $2B

By Emily Bader
New Jersey | May 7, 2020 at 12:06 pm

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced on Thursday it has distributed more than $1.9 billion in unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Jersey in mid-March.

In the seven weeks since the pandemic began, the NJDOL said 1.02 million unemployment claims were filed, the most ever recorded during a single period.

As we pass the milestone of 1 million claims filed — a number so staggering, we never thought we would come close to reaching it in such a compressed period of time — I’m incredibly proud of the tireless work of our staff to get nearly $2 billion into the bank accounts of so many New Jersey workers, to support their families,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said.

The NJDOL said there are roughly 642,000 people in New Jersey currently receiving unemployment benefits. It also processed an additional 72,000 federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims last week.

To aid those struggling to get their benefits, the NJDOL put together an online guide to walk people through the weekly certification process.

Our process is one we are required to follow to protect claimants, prevent fraud, protect the trust fund’s solvency and safeguard New Jersey businesses. It’s heartbreaking to hear tens of thousands of payments held up because of an unintentional certification mistake. It’s what motivates us to put the most useful information out there for our customers, and to make sure every eligible claimant collects their benefits as quickly as possible.”

For the week ending May 2, there were 88,326 new unemployment applications filed in the state.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.

Nationally, approximately 3.17 million people filed new claims last week, a decrease of 677,000 from the previous week’s revised total, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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

March 15-21

155,815

March 22-28

206,253

March 29-April 4

214,836

April 5-11

141,420

April 12-18

140,139

April 19-25

71,996

April 26-May 2

88,326

The state said it paid out $1.9 billion in unemployment benefits, including $900 million in state unemployment payments since mid-march and $989 million in supplemental payments distributed over the past four weeks.

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

April 27-May 1

$171.7 million

Roughly 91% of new unemployment applications are being filed online. Claims will be also backdated. 

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | @emilybader