Labor Dept.: 28% of N.J.’s labor force have filed for unemployment

By Emily Bader
New Jersey | Jun 18, 2020 at 12:33 pm

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced on Thursday that 1.24 million workers, or 28% of the state’s current labor force, have file for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March.

As of June 13, New Jersey has distributed $7.2 billion in unemployment benefits to state residents, the DOL said.

The DOL said it took in 26,392 new unemployment claims for the week, a 14% increase from the week before. During the height of the pandemic, the department experienced nearly 215,000 claims in a week.

The department also released figures for continued weeks claimed, a total of the number of Unemployment Insurance weeks claimed in a given week, including back weeks. For the week ending June 13, New Jersey had 1.036 million continued weeks claimed in state and federal benefits.

“The volume of claims continues to be staggering, well beyond anything the states could have been prepared for,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “It’s gut-wrenching to hear from people whose claim is not resolved, who can no longer make ends meetWe want those people to know we are making (information technology) improvements every day, bringing on more people every day, to get to every claim still waiting for a determination.”

Even though the volume of claims is still high, New Jersey employers have begun recalling workers who lost their jobs or hours due to the coronavirus.

Total nonfarm wage and salary employment in the state increased by 86,800 in May to a total of 3.497 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gain represents 10% of the number of jobs lost in March and April (831,300) in New Jersey.

All of the gains were recorded in the private sector (+92,200) as the private sector declined (-5,400). The unemployment rate in New Jersey reached 15.2% in May, a 1.1% decrease from April’s 16.3%.

Over the month, increases were seen in eight of the nine major private industry sectors, including leisure and hospitality (+30,500); manufacturing (+18,500); trade, transportation, and utilities (+16,700); construction (+14,100); professional and business services (+5,800); other services (+4,600); education and health services (+3,400); and financial activities (+200). Decreases were found only in the information sector (-1,600).

The department said it opened a new call center on Tuesday to help with the influx of claims.

New Jersey’s weekly total of unemployment claims: 

Week 1 (March 15-21): 155,815
Week 2 (March 22-28): 206,253
Week 3 (March 29-April 4): 214,836
Week 4 (April 5-11): 141,420
Week 5 (April 12-18): 140,139
Week 6 (April 19-25): 71,996
Week 7 (April 26-May 2): 88,326
Week 8 (May 3-9): 69,689
Week 9 (May 10-16): 42,365
Week 10 (May 17-23): 34,410
Week 11 (May 24-30): 26,752
Week 12 (May 31-June 6): 23,116
Week 13 (June 7-13): 26,392
Total: 1,241,556

The state said of the $7.2 billion in total benefits payout, $2.4 billion went to state unemployment payments since mid-March, $4.3 billion went to Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments, $452 million went to PUA payments, and $103 million went to Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. 

New Jersey’s weekly breakdown of  payments (in millions): 

Week 

NJ UI 

FPUC  

PUA  

PEUC

March 15-21 

 $47.4  

NA 

NA 

NA

March 22-28 

 $57.9  

NA 

NA 

NA

March 29-April 3 

 $89.8  

NA 

NA 

NA

April 4-11 

$140.7  

$154.8 

NA 

NA

April 12-18 

$179.7  

$238.8 

NA 

NA

April 19-25 

$211.1  

$296.3 

NA 

NA

April 26-May 2 

$171.7  

$291.1 

$27.1 

NA

May 3-9 

$244.7  

$502.4 

$51.6 

NA

May 10-16 

$239.7 

$414.0 

$55.6 

NA

May 17-23 

$236.2 

$596.9 

$112.3 

NA

May 24-30 

$242.7 

$553.5 

$87.7 

NA

May 31-June 6

$255.5

$635.2

$56.6

$56.6

June 7-13

$244.5

$573.8

$60.7

$46.5

Total 

$2,361.6

$4,256.8 

$451.6 

$103.1

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