NJ reports historic drop in employment; 1.1 million filed for unemployment since pandemic began

Posted at 3:18 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 15:23:49-04

NEW JERSEY — As New Jersey continues to see a flattening of the curve COVID-19 outbreak, the state has seen a rise in unemployment rates since pandemic began.

The New Jersey Dept. of Labor reported a historic drop in employment for the month of April.

In April, 757,700 jobs were lost over the month, bringing the state’s unemployment rate to 15.3%, according to Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

About 1.1 million workers in the state filed new unemployment claims since March 15. By mid-June, the department expects to be filing about 1 million unemployment claims in one week.

Asaro-Angelo noted that just 10 months ago, New Jersey reported its lowest unemployment rate since record keeping began.

Since the pandemic, “Employment in the garden state has been reduced to a number not seen since 1992,” Asaro-Angelo said during Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily coronavirus briefing Thursday.

While not everyone has received or is eligible for benefits, Asaro-Angelos said the labor department is working to bring available assistance to the many that are. As of May 16, about $3.4 billion in benefits have been paid out to workers so far.

The department also began to notify people who may have exhausted their state unemployment benefits and will determine if they are eligible for an extension through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).

As anyone whose weekly benefits suddenly stopped, the labor department said it could be one of two reasons: Either they no longer qualify under federal law or they answered incorrectly on the site’s mandated questionnaire. Individuals are advised to answer guides at

Gov. Murphy said he understands the frustration of those who have yet to receive unemployment, but ensured everyone will “get every single penny that’s coming to you.”

Nearly 39 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. Prior to the pandemic, the Department of Labor had never recorded more than one million initial claims for unemployment in a single week.