After weeks of mostly falling new unemployment claims, new filings jumped 70% last week due to furloughed state workers and end-of-school-year layoffs, the state said Thursday.
The state workers’ union The Communication Workers of America, agreed its members will take 10 furlough days in July to defer two scheduled raises. In exchange the union got a promise of no layoffs through Dec. 31, 2021.
Nationwide, 1.3 million workers filed new unemployment claims, the U.S. Department of Labor reported, and the unemployment rate fell a half-percent to 12.4%.
More than 47,000 New Jersey workers filed initial unemployment claims during the week ending July 4, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Last week’s initial claims total is the highest in eight weeks, DOL said.
The state DOL said it issued $843 million to claimants, and total payments have exceeded $9.9 billion since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic business shutdown began.
“The number of people in need is staggering. We’ve had 1.35 million applicants since mid March; 1.2 million of them have met the earnings requirements to receive benefits, with 96 percent of them having received payment,” said state Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
However, the DOL has not answered repeated questions about how they reach the 96% figure, how they define who has met earnings requirements, and how many have been unable to get through to an agent in order to meet those requirements.
Last week the state began offering 20 weeks of extended unemployment to New Jersey workers who have exhausted 39 weeks of state and federal jobless benefits. Claimants are automatically enrolled into extended benefits as their federal extension ends, the DOL said.