NJ unemployment snag resolved, allowing 75K to resume collecting payments, officials say
Robert Asaro-Angelo of the NJ Dept. of Labor discusses the state's unemployment situation during a briefing on Feb. 5, 2021. NorthJersey.com
The 75,000 New Jersey residents who have gone weeks without an unemployment payment because of a snag in the Department of Labor's system will return to their normal payment cycle a week earlier than anticipated, officials said Saturday.
Workers will be notified this weekend by email that they can return to certifying for benefits and will receive payments directly to their bank account or via a debit card on their regular schedule.
It was the latest problem in an unemployment system that's been besieged by a record amount of out-of-work New Jerseyans ever since the pandemic began in March.
Not everyone will be helped by this fix. The Labor Department estimates about 4% of all eligible claimants haven't received at least one check, meaning tens of thousands of workers still haven't been paid.
The fix for the 75,000 workers comes a day after Gov. Phil Murphy and Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo were grilled by the press on why so many New Jersey residents were caught in a bureaucratic limbo that prevented them from receiving extended benefits.
At a news briefing on Friday, they said the problem would be resolved by Feb. 12. But it was taken care of in less than 24 hours, according to a news release sent by the Labor Department on Saturday morning.
Workers will have to certify for each week that they missed. The regular benefits should arrive in a lump sum payment, as well as a separate lump sum for the weekly $300 federal unemployment payment a couple of days later, Asaro-Angelo said.
More on NJ unemployment: Why Gov. Murphy just vetoed this NJ unemployment benefits bill. What to know
Is New Jersey ready?: Biden pledges big boost in refugee admissions
The 75,000 workers had exhausted their unemployment payments but were made eligible for an 11-week extension from a $900 billion federal stimulus bill signed by former President Donald Trump in the waning days of his administration.
The Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 extended by 11 weeks, from the beginning of January through mid-March regular unemployment payments plus a $300 supplemental payment.
Asaro-Angelo said delays in getting the bill signed held up his IT department from reprogramming its antiquated computer system. It created a lapse in benefits to 75,000 workers, who account for 5% of those seeking unemployment payments in New Jersey.
But those computer problems were seemingly fixed overnight instead of the anticipated one week.
The federal extension ends on March 13.