(The Center Square) – More than 17,000 New Jersey residents filed new claims for unemployment during the week ending Dec. 5, a 26% increase from the prior week, according to figures from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The Labor Department says more than $230 million was sent to New Jersey residents, bringing the total amount of money distributed this year to more than $19.7 billion. More than 1.8 million New Jersey residents have collected unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.
New Jersey officials are waiting to see what Congress will include in its next stimulus bill. About 500,000 residents will be affected by the Dec. 26 expiration of benefits paid for by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The current $908 billion spending plan under consideration by Congress includes an extra $300 a week for unemployed Americans. Negotiations have been contentious and the House adjourned until next week, when talks are expected to resume.
“We know how much this is going to hurt New Jersey families just after the holidays, so we remain hopeful new federal legislation will be enacted to provide much-needed relief to our state’s workers and small businesses without delay,” New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said.
Gov. Phil Murphy extended unemployment benefits from some residents whose benefits were set to end. Eligible residents will be notified by the Labor Department.
Nationally, initial unemployment claims filed was 853,000 the week ending Dec. 5, a 137,000 increase from the previous week, a nearly 32 percent increase. The level was the highest increase since September and the third increase in four weeks.
New Jersey is doing better than most states when comparing unemployment figures from last year to this year’s numbers, according to figures from WalletHub. The state’s year over year increase in unemployment claims was 27.99 percent higher, the second smallest increase among the 50 states. New Jersey’s unemployment claims are up 408 percent from the beginning of the year, the third smallest increase in the US, according to WalletHub.
Between March 18, 2019, and Dec. 2, 2019, 334,504 New Jersey residents filed unemployment claims compared to 1.8 million during a similar time this year. The 539 percent increase from last year is the fourth smallest increase in the country, according to WalletHub.