Jobless Claims Keep Rising in New York, New Jersey
By Kate King
First-time applications for unemployment benefits jumped in New
York and New Jersey last week as the economic fallout from the
coronavirus pandemic drags on.
Initial jobless claims in New York totaled 71,641 last week, a
13.3% increase from the prior week, according to the state Labor
Department. In New Jersey, initial jobless claims increased 25.6%
last week, to 24,633, according to the state Labor Department and
"New Jersey workers continue to struggle with the weight of
unemployment and underemployment, and the accompanying financial
worries of not having a job," Labor Commissioner Robert
Asaro-Angelo said in a statement.
Jobless claims held steady in Connecticut last week, at around
5,000, according to numbers reported to the U.S. Department of
Labor. Nationwide, 870,000 applications for unemployment benefits
were filed, an increase of 4,000 from the prior week.
The three states are starting to release supplemental
unemployment benefits under an executive order signed by President
Trump last month. New York has paid out about $1.9 billion to more
than two million unemployed residents eligible for the extra $300
in weekly benefits, Labor Department officials said last week.
The program, which uses funding from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, allows states to apply for up to six weeks of
extra benefits. A previous federal program that provided $600 in
weekly payments on top of regular state unemployment benefits
expired at the end of July and hasn't been extended by
Niagara Fall, N.Y., resident Paul Mayes said the extra $300 in
weekly benefits -- $263 after taxes -- helped him make ends meet
after the $600 payments ended. Mr. Mayes, who was making between
$500 and $800 a week as a dishwasher at a casino before he was laid
off in March, said he couldn't afford to buy his family groceries
on his state unemployment benefits alone, which totaled $309 a week
"You gotta choose between making a rent payment or getting
food," said Mr. Mayes, 33 years old.
Mr. Mayes returned to work this week, but said he's only getting
40 hours a week compared with before the pandemic, when he earned
20 to 30 hours a week in overtime. He is struggling to cover his
expenses and applied for rental assistance and food stamps, but
said he and his wife earn too much to qualify.
"I live it one day at a time and I pray to God that my bills are
paid," he said.
Erica Groshen, senior labor-economics adviser at Cornell
University, said the extra unemployment benefits were a lifeline
for low-wage workers, who have been more likely to lose their jobs
during the pandemic and often have little savings to weather
"Now, with that gone and also with the duration of unemployment
starting to rise, I think we can expect to see more evidence of
financial distress," she said.
Ms. Groshen, a former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, said Congress should renew the supplemental
unemployment benefits and invest in infrastructure projects to
prevent the economy from spiraling.
"Pandemics are expensive and we're crazy to think that it's not
going to be costly to fight the impact of the pandemic on all
fronts," she said.
New Jersey has been approved for six weeks of extra benefits and
expects to start distributing them next month, according to state
labor officials. Connecticut has also been approved for six weeks
and so far has distributed nearly $300,000 in benefits, a
spokeswoman for the state Labor Department said.
Laid-off workers receiving at least $100 in weekly state
unemployment benefits are eligible for the extra $300.
Write to Kate King at Kate.King@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 24, 2020 20:04 ET (00:04 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.