NEW JERSEY – New Jersey unemployment claims have surged to a record level – a 1,546 percent increase over the previous week – as the Garden State continues to battle the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
Non-essential businesses have been shut and schools have closed as New Jersey is dealing with the nation's second-highest case total – 4,402 – and 62 people have died. Read more: NJ Coronavirus Updates: Here's What You Need To Know
New Jersey has set up a job portal to deal with the impact as tens of thousands of people may soon find themselves jobless as the crisis continues. Read more: Need A Job? Coronavirus Outbreak Has Created Opportunities In NJ
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development received 155,815 new claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending March 21 – a 1,546 percent increase over the prior week – and stark evidence of how dramatically COVID-19 has begun to impact the state’s workforce and businesses.
This is by far the Labor Department’s highest total of single-week claims in memory. Initial claims spiked past 46,000 in a single week after Superstorm Sandy in November 2012, and shot up to 25,385 for a week in July 2010, the low point of the last recession, according to the Department of Lavor press release.
“We understand the anxiety, uncertainty and fear out there among residents who have been laid off suddenly or seen their hours reduced,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
“Despite some challenges our systems are experiencing due to volume, Labor Department staff are working continuously to meet the needs of all of our customers, and get benefits to everyone who deserves them as soon as possible.”
New Jersey has stepped up its efforts to serve this critical-needs population by temporarily suspending the “work search requirement” for laid off workers.
Additionally, applicants in New Jersey do not have a “waiting week” before benefits are paid once they are approved. An extension of benefits beyond the currently allowable 26 weeks is all but certain.
“The fact that so many New Jersey residents hit by this public health emergency were able to apply for benefits in the past week is evidence the system is working as intended,” said Asaro-Angelo. “Our unemployment fund has a healthy surplus, thanks to our employers and employees, and we are able to meet this challenge head on.”
The data released Thursday by the US Department of Labor also indicates that nearly 105,000 residents are currently collecting unemployment, roughly 3 percent less than at this time last year.
The number of initial claims in New Jersey began to spike in the week ending March 14, when the state saw 9,467 initial claims filed, a roughly 18 percent increase in new claims over the week ending March 7.
Applicants can help make the process as smooth as possible by filing online whenever possible; reading about the programs at nj.gov/labor before applying to be sure they are applying for the right program; filling out the application completely with no missing information; filing at off-peak times such as early in the morning or later in the evening; and not checking their claim status once they have filed for benefits and received a confirmation email that their application has been received.
For national unemployment data, visit https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf
For archived NJ claims data, visit https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/DataDashboard.asp
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Here's what else you should know:
- State health officials said they believe the virus is "community-spread" in New Jersey. "Community-spread indicates that the coronavirus is amongst us," Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced. Read more: Coronavirus May Be 'Community-Spread' In NJ
- Murphy issued a stay-at-home order, closing all non-essential business at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 21. Read more: Gov. Murphy Announces NJ 'Stay-At-Home' Order Due To Coronavirus
- On Monday, March 16, Murphy announced that all schools would close on Tuesday, March 17. Read more: NJ Schools Will Close Due To Coronavirus Outbreak: Gov. Murphy
- Here are 10 resources for you and your family to utilize as you navigate through the outbreak: Unemployment, Tests, Food: 10 NJ Resources In Coronavirus Crisis
- Murphy issued an executive order on Thursday, March 19 to ensure voters can exercise their right to vote without risking their health and safety. Read more: Coronavirus Alters NJ Election Procedure, Moves Election Dates
- The first person in New Jersey to die of the coronavirus was reported on Tuesday, March 10. Read more: First NJ Coronavirus Death, 4 New Cases: Governor
- New Jersey's courts suspended all new jury trials until further notice, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said on Thursday, March 12. Read more: Coronavirus Throws Monkey Wrench Into New Jersey Court System
- Rabner also announced on Saturday, March 14 that municipal court sessions will be suspended.
- The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission said it's also closing temporarily. Read more: New Jersey MVC Shuts Down Because Of Coronavirus
- A new report from ProPublica says New Jersey hospitals would be hard pressed to meet demand – even in a best-case scenario – if the coronavirus outbreak surges. Read more: NJ Hospitals Lack Beds For Coronavirus Surge: Report
- Four members of the same New Jersey family died from the coronavirus, according to March 19 reports. Read more:
- Murphy also has signed 16 bills into law that he says will help the state deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Read more: NJ Gov. Phil Murphy Signs 16 Coronavirus Bills Into Law
- After two FEMA sites opened, officials said five more counties will be getting coronavirus testing sites. Read more: Coronavirus Drive-Through Testing Sites To Open In 5 NJ Counties
How It Spreads
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
While the best way to prevent illness is to avoid virus exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention always recommends taking preventive actions to contain the spread of viruses. This includes:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.