The first round of $300 federal jobless benefits has been delayed at least until the weekend, according to a Jan. 14 announcement from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
State labor officials said in a statement on its website that an “unforeseen complication delayed running the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program last week as planned.”
“We also have to keep the programming for the previous FPUC payments of $600 in place, and this complication has caused a slight delay in processing. Don’t forget, these benefits were not signed into law until Dec. 27, not even 3 weeks ago,” Angela Deli-Santi, a spokesperson for the labor department, said in an email. “New Jersey hopes to process these payments this weekend. We will continue to provide updates as warranted. Regular unemployment benefits are unaffected, and continue to be paid as usual.”
The most recent COVID-19 relief bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, calls for up to 11 weeks of federal jobless relief, cut from the $600 that expired in July to the current $300 a week.
Anyone out of work between Jan. 2 and March 13 will get the weekly $300, on top of regular state benefits. Nearly 600,000 New Jerseyans are collecting some form of pandemic-related jobless relief and will be eligible for the additional $300.
Nearly 2 million New Jerseyans have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of March 2020, when Gov. Phil Murphy ordered business closures meant to halt the spread of the virus across the state. New Jersey’s unemployment rate peaked at 16.3% in April, its highest in decades.
Amid surges in new daily cases and total hospitalizations, Murphy has said that he would not roll back restrictions any time soon.
Since March, the state has issued nearly $21 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits, most of which came from the weekly $600 federal relief payments.
It is not clear why these delays are occurring in New Jersey, but not states such as California or New York, which have already issued hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal aid checks.
“We’re working it around the clock and still hopeful to get the $300 payments out this week. Either way, regular unemployment insurance payments have no issues and no one will lose any eligibility for the $300,” New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement, read during a Jan. 13 COVID-19 press briefing.
State labor officials have said that there have been no technical issues with their systems in the past two days that might lead to delays. The state’s system has been burdened by hundreds of thousands of claims, with thousands in the state waiting weeks or months for a single check.