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NJ Extends Unemployment Benefits Another 20 Weeks

NJ's unemployment benefits have been extended Photo Credit: Pixabay
A chart showing the rising number of unemployment claims in New Jersey since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Photo Credit: NJ Governor's Office (screengrab)

Most of New Jersey's unemployed workers will be eligible for 20 more weeks of unemployment benefits -- totaling more than a year's worth of jobless pay, authorities said.

Prior to Wednesday's announcement by the state Labor Department, unemployed New Jerseyans ran out of state and federal benefits after 39 weeks,

About 1.3 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits in New Jersey since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Labor Department paid $8.2 billion in state and federal benefits to eligible workers over that three-month period.

“The state extension kicks in after claimants exhaust up to 26 weeks of state unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC),” the Labor Department said in a statement. “The additional 20 weeks of benefits brings to 59 the maximum number of weeks an eligible claimant may receive in benefits at this time.”

Extended benefits will kick in because New Jersey has hit grim benchmarks set by the federal government, including a very high rate of unemployment -- 15.2 percent in May.

Workers do not need to reapply for benefits. They will automatically be enrolled into extended benefits when their federal extension ends, the state agency said. 

“New Jersey went from being at almost full employment last winter to double-digit unemployment almost overnight,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “These triggers are put in place for just such eventualities – so that claimants have access to an income safety net for an extended period of time during times of high unemployment.”

Independent contractors, freelance workers and the self-employed, who were eligible for 39 weeks of federal benefits, will not get the full extension. They will receive seven additional weeks from the state for a total of 46 weeks, the state agency said

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