TRENTON, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday issued a chilling announcement, that one in six million people in New Jersey are on unemployment and that number is growing every day. That figure doesn’t count the many small business owners and individuals who have been trying, without success to get their unemployment benefits or those independent contractors who are now out of work and are having difficulties navigating the labor department’s rudimentary online benefits system. “This is an unemployment crisis like we’ve never seen before,” said Phil Murphy.
“Let’s put this in perspective. The department has now received more than 1 million claims in just two months, and it has sent out $1.9 billion in unemployment assistance. Other states are facing similar challenges trying to get people paid. But I know the Commissioner and his department will continue their incredible work to make every eligible New Jerseyan whole,” Murphy said. “Last week, the department was able to process an additional 72,000 federal pandemic unemployment assistance claims, and these are the claims which make up the lion’s share of the backlog. However, even as they remove claims from the backlog, more are piling up right behind them, and I know Rob will be able to give us greater detail.”
1 in 6 New Jersey Adults Out of Work
According to the 2010 Census, the total population of New Jersey was 8,791,894 and the median age was 39.0 years. Children under 18 years of age made up 23% of NJ’s population; 63% were aged 18 through 64 years; and 13% were 65 years and older. That means of the roughly six million adults in New Jersey, at least 1 in 6 are now collecting unemployment, but it’s not sure how many are not collecting a paycheck at all.
Here’s what else the governor said about the problem:
I also want to note that we are getting standing up a detailed one-stop page on our information hub for those of you who are out of work and looking for answers. That page is covid19.nj.gov/work. I thank the team at the Office of Innovation and especially its leader, Beth Novak, and the department, as well as our partners at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, Carl Van Horn, under his leadership, for getting this resource center up and running.
And for those of you who want to keep working, our jobs portal continues to post available jobs at a range of essential employers, and that link is prominently displayed as well at covid19.nj.gov. But we urge everyone to please remember a couple of things. One, this is an unemployment crisis unlike that which we have ever seen before. The sheer volume of claims filed in just the past two months is far, far greater than anything the department or its systems has had to work through. Weekly claims are literally many times more than the department has historically dealt with across entire months.
And, please remember the people processing your claims not only are committed to getting the job done, but they too are New Jerseyans worrying about their own health and safety and that of their families. They’re working overtime. They’re working behind the scenes into the evenings and on weekends to get people paid. Let’s remember the ties that bind us as New Jerseyans. We know some of you are frustrated. I don’t blame you. But let’s get through this together.