Unemployment update: DOL has paid nearly $35B in benefits in response to pandemic

Robert Asaro-Angelo. (File photo)

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development has paid nearly $35 billion in unemployment insurance benefits to 1.6 million claimants from March 2020 through the week ending Sept. 4 — the date on which supplemental UI payments expired.

The DOL said these payments include funds to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans otherwise ineligible for regular unemployment without the recently expired, emergency unemployment programs established under the federal CARES Act in March 2020 and renewed by the Continued Assistance Act in December 2020 and again by the American Rescue Plan in March.

“Enhanced federal unemployment programs were critical to helping our state and the nation mitigate an economic crisis while controlling a public health crisis,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said.

“While we are thankful, the fact that these programs were enacted as temporary emergency measures proves our outdated federal unemployment system is unable to meet the modern needs of our workforce.”

Regular state UI and extended benefits provided nearly $9 billion to New Jersey workers and families, while the temporary programs contributed almost $25 billion.

In addition, more than $1 billion was paid to claimants under the Lost Wages Assistance program, which provided a $300 weekly supplemental benefit on top of regular UI for a maximum of six weeks through FEMA funds in fall 2020.