Week 3: Another record increase for unemployment claims in New Jersey
Nearly 215,000 New Jerseyans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, setting a state record for the third consecutive week.
This morning’s weekly report from the U.S. Department of Labor and an update from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development show 214,836 new claims were filed in New Jersey, up slightly from the 206,253 claims recorded a week earlier.
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Adding in the 155,815 claims that had been filed in New Jersey for the week ending March 21, which was the first since the coronavirus shutdowns began, the three-week total for new claims in the state is around 577,000.
That’s more than had been filed in entire 52 weeks before that, when there had been 489,000 new unemployment claims filed.
The state Labor Department said residents already collecting unemployment will begin to see their $600 supplemental federal unemployment benefit arrive April 14, for the week of March 30. It will be a separate payment and will continue to be paid for eligible weeks through July 25.
Total employment in New Jersey in February was a seasonally adjusted 4,243,900. The number of new unemployment claims in the last the weeks, which isn't seasonally adjusted, amounts to 13.5% of that workforce.
The numbers probably understate the scope of the unemployment problem. Though record numbers of New Jerseyans have filed new claims, many others are continuing to have problems accessing the state's antiquated and overwhelmed filing system, and the state doesn't have nearly enough claims agents to keep up with demand.
“The number of new claims the Labor Department is receiving and the amount of benefits being paid to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans shows the system is working, but we understand that’s of little consolation if you’re out of work and waiting for your benefits,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
The state said that the claims processed from March 15 through April 4 shows the hardest-hit sectors have been food/accommodation services, ambulatory health care (such as doctors’ and dentists’ offices), personal services (such as hair and nail salons) and temporary employment agencies.
Nationally, another 6.6 million initial claims for unemployment were filed the week ending April 4, a reduction of 261,000 from the previous week’s revised level. Nearly 16.8 million Americans have filed new unemployment claims in the last three weeks.
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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.