6 weeks later: Thousands still unable to get unemployment benefits

It has been about six weeks since the state-at-home orders were put into place and hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents have still not received their benefits.

News 12 Staff

Apr 30, 2020, 3:07 AM

Updated 1,449 days ago

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Almost 1 million New Jersey residents have filed for unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been about six weeks since the state-at-home orders were put into place and hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents have still not received their benefits.
The delays stem from the sheer number of claims, short staff and outdated equipment. Gov. Phil Murphy has asked for patience. But many say that time is running out.
“I think that by withholding this money from the people and taking so long, you know, mentally, it’s taken a toll,” says Michele Izzi – a horse trainer who started a Facebook group for people struggling with the unemployment system.
Izzi says that her group is for people to share ideas about what works and what doesn’t work when dealing with the unemployment office and to come together in support of one another.
“Nobody hears us. Nobody answers us and now I have almost 2,000 people in this group,” she says.
Izzi says that she does not think that Murphy is focused enough on the issues surrounding the agency.
The governor said on Wednesday that the Labor Department has been making progress.
“And I have enormous sympathy for the folks out there who still haven’t gotten theirs and they’re frustrated and their accounts are dwindling,” Murphy said.
The state claims that it has given out $1 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 550,000 people. But this still leaves nearly half-a-million claims unresolved.
There is word that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program could help people like Izzi, who says that she is hopeful her business will survive the pandemic. She says that she is more worried about everyone else.
“Six people in particular I’ve had to reach out to directly just to give the 1-800 number to the suicide hotline,” she says.
Izzi says that she is so frustrated with the Murphy administration that she has considered reopening her business in defiance of the executive order.


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