New Jersey sees uptick in new claims for unemployment


New Jersey saw another 13,500 initial unemployment claims in the latest reporting period, including a spike in new filings from school bus drivers and cafeteria workers who were out of work during Thanksgiving week, according to information released by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The number of claims was up 1,300 the week ending Nov. 28 over the previous week, according to the numbers.

“As we see by the numbers of new and continuing claims, workers are still struggling under the weight of layoffs and reductions in hours, as well as the difficulty of finding a new job during COVID,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said.

More than 1.8 million New Jersey residents have filed unemployment claims since the pandemic began in March and nearly $19.5 billion in benefits have been mailed out to unemployed workers.

Financial website WalletHub says New Jersey’s recovery ranks sixth among the 50 states. The report compares claims filed last week with the number of claims filed last year and at the beginning of 2020 and the cumulative number of claims filed since the pandemic began.

The unemployment rate partially shows how many people are looking for work, according to Tony Michael, JD, who is professor and program director for Family and Community Development at West Virginia University.

“It does not take into account those who have been on unemployment so long that their benefits expired or those who may not be receiving unemployment benefits because they have been ‘dropped’ from the roles for failing to meet certain requirements such as actively searching for a job,” Michael said. “It does not take into account those who have turned to the ‘underground economy’ such as doing odd jobs because employment is not available or those who did not qualify for unemployment because they were not employed during the last 18 months.”

About 312,000 New Jersey independent contractors are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and 175,000 are receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, according to NJDOL.

Both programs are authorized through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and expire on Dec. 26 unless Congress votes to renew them. Congress was still negotiating the terms of a new stimulus package Thursday.

Nationally, 712,000 people filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending Nov. 28, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor. The number is down 75,000 from the previous week.

The unemployment rate for the week ending Nov. 21 was 3.8 percent, according to the DOL.

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