Nearly 70,000 new unemployment claims were filed in New Jersey last week, as the Labor Department processed another 262,000 weeks worth of federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and saw total pandemic-related payments rise to $2.7 billion.
The number of initial claims filed since mid-March approached 1.1 million, with more than 725,000 actively collecting state and federal PUA benefits. Data shows workers in casinos, retail, food service, restaurants and airlines hit the hardest by the pandemic.
PUA is a new federal program authorized by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides benefits not just to newly eligible populations such as self-employed workers, independent contractors or those who do not have enough recent earnings to qualify for regular unemployment benefits, but also for newly qualifying reasons such as being unable to work because due to caring for others or for their own COVID-19 illness.
Approximately 139,000 additional self-employed workers, independent contractors and others awaiting benefits are being made eligible for PUA this week; they will receive email instructions on how to claim their weekly benefits starting Sunday. They must follow the certification guide and schedule posted on myunemployment.nj.gov and must review the certifying questions to avoid payment delays.
The certification tips can be found here.
“The USDOL has strict rules in place that we must follow when handling a claim in order to prevent fraud. Unfortunately, this also can lengthen the time it takes for claimants to receive benefits,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We are doing everything we can, working within federal guidelines, to get benefits to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. We can only do so much without jeopardizing billions of dollars of funding for the new federal benefits programs, like PUA, and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, the $600 weekly supplement.”
For the week ending May 9, initial unemployment claims were 69,689. The weekly totals of new unemployment claims for the eight weeks since the virus hit are:
|March 15 – 21
|March 22 – 28||206,253|
|March 29 – April 4
|April 5 – 11||141,420|
|April 12 – 18
|April 19 – 25
|April 26 – May 2
|May 3 – May 9||69,689*|
Eligible claimants have received $2.7 billion in benefits to date, including $1.1 billion in state unemployment payments since mid-March, and $1.5 billion in FPUC payments and $79 millions in PUA payments.
The breakdown of weekly payments (in millions):
|Week||NJ UI Payment||FPUC Payment||PUA Payment|
|March 16 – 20
|March 23 – 27||$57.9||X||X|
|March 30 – April 3
|April 6 – 10
|April 13 – 17
|April 20 – 24
|April 27 – May 1
|May 2 – May 8||$244.7||$502.4||$51.6|
The CARES Act also authorized a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of New Jersey unemployment. Those benefits will start to be processed next week for those who exhausted their benefits since last July.
The Labor Department has posted guides for self-employed, independent contractors and others who might be eligible for PUA that explain the benefits and walk them through the application process. Those guides can be found here.
Information on certifying for unemployment can be found here.
People collecting unemployment are also receiving a $600 supplemental weekly benefit through the end of July. Those payments arrive separately, after the regular unemployment payment. A separate application is not required
Roughly 91 percent of new unemployment applications are being filed online at myunemployment.nj.gov. Claims continue to be backdated to ensure that no one loses a week of benefits, even if they have difficulty getting through.
Anyone who refuses work or voluntarily quits a job is ineligible for unemployment.
Anyone looking for work is encouraged to visit New Jersey’s jobs portal — jobs.covid19.nj.gov — which matches jobseekers with tens of thousands of immediate openings in industries on the frontlines of the pandemic, such as food distribution, warehousing and health care.
*This represents the final number for the week ended May 9. The number listed for NJ by US Department of Labor – 68,685 – is based on advanced reporting.