The roughly 840,000 New Jerseyans collecting $600 weekly in added federal jobless benefits are going without that aid for the first time in 19 weeks, as talks break down within Congress and the White House to extend them.
As of Thursday, another 28,000 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment, marking more than 1.44 million residents who’ve filed for jobless aid since the COVID-19 pandemic slammed into New Jersey and the Northeast in mid-March, forcing many businesses to shutter their doors.
A product of the landmark $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the added federal benefit made up $7.5 billion of the $12.4 billion paid out since March 15.
According to the state labor department on Thursday, the other $3.7 billion came from the state’s unemployment fund, $895 million came from the federal jobless benefits for freelance workers and independent contractors, $277 million was from the federal extension for claimants who already exhausted their benefits heading into the recession, and $11 million was from the state’s extended unemployment benefits.
The $600 benefit expired the week ending July 25. Talks were underway in Congress and the White House to achieve some kind of stop-gap federal unemployment supplement ahead of the expiration, with Democrats hoping to continue the $600 payments and Republicans vying to push it down to $200, eventually replacing it with payments that, combined with state unemployment, would come out to roughly 70 percent of a person’s income.
The Republican proposal stalled in the Senate on Thursday, according to a report from Politico.
“State and federal unemployment benefits continue to be a vital wage replacement source for so many of our colleagues, friends and neighbors,” Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a Thursday morning statement.
The CARES Act addition is available to anyone who has paid claims between April 4 and July 25—those who filed between then, but have not yet received payments, are still going to receive them even though the program expired, state labor officials assured.
New Jersey’s unemployment rate stands at 16.6 percent, the highest since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking individual state job numbers in 1976.
Roughly 1.2 million benefits have been claimed, and 96 percent of them have received at least one payment, which still comes out to roughly 50,000 New Jerseyans who have not gotten a single payment.
“While these benefits are providing a safety net for countless families, we are reminded every day that some are continuing to have issues with their claims,” Asaro-Angelo added. “We are throwing every resource we have at these complicated outstanding claims, and working to get everyone a determination quickly.”
For the week ending July 25, 28,063 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment, roughly 9 percent higher than the 25,804 jobless claims the week before, which ended July 18.
A landmark deal between the Murphy administration and the 35,000-member Communications Workers of American New Jersey, calls for thousands of member public workers to be partially furloughed during the month of July.
State labor officials indicated that a considerable chunk of new weekly unemployment claims is made up of furloughed CWA members.
Earlier on Thursday, the United States economy reported its worst-ever quarter in American history, shrinking by 32.9 percent between April and June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analyses.
“The fact is, our recovery is going to be slower than people were hoping,” said Christopher Hayes, a labor professor at Rutgers University.
Recovery from the pandemic could likely span the better part of the 2020s, thanks to a nationwide surge in the virus, according to a recent Rutgers University study titled the “Coronavirus Economic Pivot.”