The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development has dispensed $16.2 billion in unemployment benefits to jobless workers since the COVID-19 pandemic idled a significant portion of the state’s workforce nearly seven months ago.
The DOL also announced Thursday it had begun accepting certifications for up to six weeks of FEMA Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments.
LWA is a limited-time federal program that pays supplemental benefits to workers who earned 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.
“Our overarching concern is for New Jerseyans whose lives have been upended by the pandemic – workers who lost their jobs and those who were already out of work when COVID-19 hit, workers who have gotten sick themselves and those who can’t work because their child’s school or day care is closed due to COVID,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
The Labor Department began accepting certifications Thursday from people who were unemployed during the specified time and who have not given a reason for their unemployment. Those people, who are receiving email notifications from the department, must attest that they are out of work due to the pandemic to receive the extra benefit. To claim this additional benefit, go here.
The DOL said people receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or regular unemployment (UI) during that window, who have previously attested that their unemployment is because of COVID, will receive the money automatically and do not have to certify. Payments will be made as a lump sum and are expected the week of Oct. 19.
For the week ending Oct. 3, a total 23,607 individuals filed new unemployment claims, a 13% percent decline from the prior week following two weeks of increases. The number of new weekly claims has averaged roughly 23,000 over the past eight weeks.
The average unemployment recipient has received $11,849 in wage-replacement benefits. The department distributed $262 million last week alone.
Of the 1.65 million who have applied for benefits since mid-March, 1.4 million have met the monetary requirements, and 96% of those have received payment.
Also last week, the Labor Department emailed 68,000 claimants receiving PUA to request additional wage records, as they could be eligible for higher benefits than the $230 PUA minimum. This process started with the earliest dates of claim and will get through all PUA minimum claims over the next few weeks.
PUA, PEUC and FPUC are federal programs authorized by Congress under the Coronavirus Aid Relief Economic Security (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 per 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.