New Unemployment Claims Continue Slow Climb, NJ Labor Dept. Reports
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2021
TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported a slight uptick in initial unemployment claims last week – the fourth straight week of increases – as pandemic-related benefit distributions approached $21 billion.
Initial weekly unemployment claims totaled 21,833* for the week ending Jan. 9 -- an increase of 4 percent, or 847 claims, over the prior week -- with the total number of initial claims for benefits now topping 1.94** million since mid-March. More than $20.9 billion in benefits have been distributed to New Jersey workers; the average claimant has received $14,505 in benefits.
“As we see every week based on how many new unemployment claims we receive, COVID-19 has flipped the economy on its head and led to unimaginable numbers of workers seeking vital, family sustaining economic benefits. Our Department continues to use every resource at its disposal to respond to this unprecedented crisis, and help workers get back on their feet through training opportunities and virtual career services,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
For additional information on workforce opportunities, please visit careerservices.nj.gov.
Under the expanded CARES Act, 460,000 claimants currently collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), plus 80,000 claimants collecting Extended Benefits (EB), are eligible for an 11-week extension, and are seeing no interruption in benefits. They should continue certifying for weekly benefits.
Approximately 33,000 claimants have exhausted their initial PUA, PEUC or Extended Benefits. They will experience a lapse in payments while NJDOL awaits guidance from the US Labor Department on how it is allowed to distribute these benefits. The Department has communicated with this group of claimants and they will be notified when they can resume certifying for weekly benefits.
The Department, meanwhile, hopes to process the newly available federal $300 supplemental unemployment benefit over the weekend. An unforeseen complication delayed running the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program last week as planned. No one will miss any weeks of eligibility.
The FPUC supplemental benefit is for anyone collecting at least $1 in unemployment, and is in addition to their regular benefit payment. The first allowable week of the $300 supplemental benefit was the week ending Jan. 2, 2021.
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Here are the week-by-week totals of new unemployment claims:
Here is the breakdown of weekly benefits payments to eligible New Jersey workers:
PUA and PEUC were authorized by Congress under the CARES Act through Dec. 26, then extended under the Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act through March 13, 2021. The maximum eligibility for PUA is now 57 weeks. PEUC now provides up to 24 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Extended benefits (EB) adds a final 20 weeks of benefits. The renewed FPUC benefit is a $300/week unemployment supplement for anyone collecting unemployment in any amount; the original program, which provided $600/week in supplemental benefits, expired in July. Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) was funded by FEMA and provided six weeks of supplemental benefits to people unemployed Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 due to COVID.
For more information on state or federal unemployment programs, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
Visit New Jersey’s jobs portal here: jobs.covid19.nj.gov.
*This represents the final number for the week ending Jan. 9. The number listed for New Jersey by the US Department of Labor – 20,636 – is based on advanced reporting.
**This number includes 191,000 claims that have been reopened by residents who returned to unemployment after a period of employment within a calendar year, as well as claims that later turned out to be fraudulent.