Department of Labor & Workforce Development

NJ Labor Dept. Expects to Make Up to $1.5B in FEMA Payments to Eligible Workers


October 15, 2020

TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday that more than 800,000 workers who were unemployed for six weeks starting Aug. 1 could be eligible for up to $1.5 billion in FEMA Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments.

LWA is a limited-time federal program that pays supplemental benefits to workers eligible for at least $100 in unemployment benefits during the weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 for a COVID-19 related reason. The benefit is $300 per week for up to six weeks, for a maximum payment of $1,800.

“With so many working families and small businesses losing their financial safety net as the pandemic stretches on, we have been working hard to get this extra relief to unemployed New Jerseyans,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We are gratified to see these funds reaching workers in their time of need.”

The Labor Department estimates that 842,000 claimants were unemployed during at least a portion of the six-week period covered by the federal program. Most had already declared their joblessness to be COVID-related, and will receive the benefit automatically. Only those who have not already affirmed a COVID-related reason for their unemployment will have to attest as such to be eligibleThose claimants have received emails and text messages from the Department with instructions.

Eligible workers can expect to receive their lump sum payment early next week.

For the week ending Oct. 10, 29,029* individuals filed new unemployment claims, a 23 percent increase from the prior week, and the largest weekly total in 12 weeks.

The rise was driven by applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) by independent contractors, people out of work due to COVID-19 and others not eligible for traditional state unemployment.

The Department has distributed $16.5 billion in unemployment benefits since COVID-19 idled a significant portion of the state’s workforce in mid-Marchincluding $278 million last week alone. The average worker has received $11,960 in benefits.

Of the 1.68 million who have applied for benefits since mid-March, 1.44 million have met the monetary requirements, and 96 percent of those have received payment.

Here is a look at the number of new unemployment claims received by the department each week:

Click the images below to view them full-size.

New Claims week of October 15

Here is a look at the weekly payments made by the Labor Department to eligible claimants:

Payments Breakdown week of October 15

PUA, PEUC and FPUC are federal programs authorized by Congress under the CARES Act. PUA provides benefits through the end of the year; maximum eligibility is 46 weeks. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides 13 weeks of federal benefits for those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Most of them are able to transition to 20 weeks of state Extended Benefits (EB). Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provided $600/week to everyone eligible for unemployment for the weeks of April 4 through July 25.  

For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.     

Anyone looking for work is encouraged to visit New Jersey’s jobs portal -- jobs.covid19.nj.gov.

For national unemployment data, visit https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdfFor archived NJ claims data, visit https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/DataDashboard.asp.

*This represents the final number for the week ending Oct. 10. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 27,982 – is based on advanced reporting.

  Go back to all press releases