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38.6 Million unemployed as NJ continues to play catchup

Unemployment office
Posted at 4:12 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 18:46:08-04

ELIZABETH, N.J. — The grim unemployment numbers continue to mount with 38.6 million Americans are now out of work and 2.4 million new claims announced Thursday.

Throughout the pandemic 3.7 million in the tri-state area have claimed unemployment with 2.2 million in New York, 1.1 million in New Jersey and 350,000 in Connecticut.

PIX 11’s Henry Rosoff has maintained a detailed week-by-week breakdown of unemployment numbers during the pandemic by state.

PIX 11 has also continued to report on issues with many people struggling just to get benefits. While the situation appears to be improving in New York, the struggle to get benefits in New Jersey continues.

“If I don’t get another stimulus check or I don’t get unemployment I don’t know what I’m going to do food wise, rent wise, bill wise,” said New Jersey resident Nick Erdmann.

Erdmann is one of several people PIX 11 spoke with Thursday who applied in mid-March or early April, who have yet to receive any money. They reported issues with overloaded phone lines, and poor outreach efforts from the state.

New Jersey defended its unemployment efforts with a number of excuses during the daily briefing Thursday. Governor Murphy said the state has to be mindful of fraud and that the previous administration cut department of labor staffing.

The state DOL insists its reaching out to more people than ever to complete claims and reported $3.4 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid, with three times more benefits processed this week than last week.

However, New Jersey’s Labor Commissioner also continued to blame the unemployed for messing up while certifying their weekly benefits.

Erdmann and many others called that laughable. They say they cannot even get that far in many cases.

“I put in my social and I put in my pin and it says I need to speak with a representative to finish processing,” said Erdmann, who’s claim is technically already approved. “But when I call there’s an automated message that says they’re not taking phone calls. It’s just a complete circle.”