In Brief

Unemployment benefits, intended to offset pandemic impact, to end this weekend

By: - September 3, 2021 6:32 am

New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains among the nation’s highest, at 7.3%. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Federal unemployment benefits expanded during the coronavirus pandemic will expire Saturday in New Jersey.

The benefits, which supplemented regular unemployment assistance and were extended to those who typically were ineligible, were established under the federal CARES Act in March 2020 and renewed twice, in December 2020 and again in March.

Programs that will expire are:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others not typically eligible for benefits;
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extended unemployment payments to those who already exhausted regular unemployment benefits;
  • and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which added a weekly supplemental payment to regular unemployment.

The programs were intended to offset skyrocketing unemployment, mass layoffs, and widespread business closures. Advocates for the state’s unemployed urged Gov. Phil Murphy to extend the benefits using federal funds granted to the state, but this week Murphy said the state could not afford to do it.

In New Jersey, more than 2.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits, peaking at 200,000 workers filing weekly claims in April 2020. Sixteen months later, New Jersey is tied for the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation at 7.3%.

The state has recovered roughly 60% of jobs lost since March 2020

About half of U.S. states already stopped the enhanced benefits, hoping to speed up job recovery. Researchers found that strategy didn’t boost employment.

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz contributed to this story.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.

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