Extra $300 FEMA payments add up to $1.2B for state workers, DOL says

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development said Thursday it has distributed $1.2 billion in FEMA payments under the Lost Wages Assistance program.

That brings the total of benefits paid to jobless and underemployed workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic to $18.1 billion, the DOL said in a news release. The average New Jersey worker has received just over $13,000 in benefits, the department added.

The FEMA program paid a $300 weekly supplement to most workers unemployed during the weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 for a COVID-related reason, with a maximum benefit of six weeks’ money, or $1,800.

“During these times, we really appreciate the importance of safety-net programs such as Unemployment Insurance, which help bridge the gap until people return to work,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a prepared statement. “Our mission is to get these benefits out to people while they are hurting financially, and to help them get back to work as quickly as possible through our workforce training programs and services.”

On Wednesday, the DOL completed its second round of FEMA payments for claimants, which should get $90 million to New Jersey workers.

For the week ending Oct. 24, New Jersey saw new unemployment claims decline 5%, to a weekly total of 27,201 new claims, the state said.