Unemployment claims in N.J. drop to 52-week low

New unemployment claims in the state dropped to their lowest levels in 52 weeks — or since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced Thursday.

For the week ending Feb. 27, the state received 10,384 claims. New Jersey recorded 392 fewer new unemployment filings compared with the prior week, marking the third straight week of declines. The DOL, however, has seen 2,034,337 new jobless claims in the past year, a number that far eclipses any other period.

With hundreds of thousands of claimants reaching the end of their benefit year between now and the end of April, the Labor Department said those claimants will not have to file a new claim for their benefits to continue. In fact, existing claimants are urged not to file a new claim, as doing so will delay their benefits. Once the review is complete, they will receive confirmation their certification was successful when they claim their weekly benefits.

“Our goal is to make this a seamless transition for the majority of claimants,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “We have been preparing for this eventuality for months, knowing that the tsunami of claims we witnessed last spring would expire en masse beginning in mid-March.”

The DOL also plans to process a new batch of FEMA Lost Wages Assistance payments for claimants who have become eligible for this federal benefit retroactively since the last time the payments were processed. Eligible claimants can expect to receive separate payments in their direct deposit accounts or debit cards early next week.

The DOL also continues to urge Congress to pass expanded unemployment benefits before March 13, when the current pandemic unemployment benefits run out, so there is no lapse in benefits for claimants who are depending on this temporary income replacement.