Nearly 214,000 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment benefits last week, shattering the state’s previous records for the third week in a row as 6.6 million Americans nationwide seek jobless claims while the COVID-19 pandemic grounds commerce to a halt.
Data released Thursday morning from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that 213,897 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment claims during the week ending April 4, compared to 205,515 state residents from the prior week, which ended March 28.
Last week, 6.6 million Americans also sought jobless benefits, many of them out of work because their businesses were ordered to cease operations, or because stay-at-home orders and surging joblessness have led to steep drops in people actually spending money.
It was the second week in a row that the United States saw more than 6 million unemployment applications
“The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and its impact is also reflected in the increasing levels of insured unemployment,” reads Thursday’s report from the federal labor department.
The federal stimulus CARES Act includes $260 billion to shore up the state’s individual unemployment systems. It also expands those benefits to furloughed workers, freelancers and independent contractors – but their benefits have been fraught with delays.
As the summer season looms, and the notion becomes likely that these restrictions will continue well into May, fears have risen that the multibillion-dollar tourism and summer season industry along the Jersey Shore could be slammed by the outbreak and social distancing guidelines.
Proponents argue that this kind of “social distancing” deprives the virus of any potential new hosts. As of Wednesday afternoon, COVID-19 infected 47,347 New Jerseyans and claimed 1,504 lives.
State and federal agencies are rolling out a myriad of grants, loans and other aid programs to help many of these businesses slammed by the outbreak, including a $10 million loan program, for which applications go live on Monday morning.
State officials in New Jersey, as well as the gubernatorial administrations of Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, are also beginning to look at a regional approach to lifting business restrictions once the outbreak is brought under control, and how to jolt the now-stagnant economy.