‘I’m angry so many times’ - At 15.3%, New Jersey jobless rate at its highest since 1992

The state Labor Department said more than 750,000 jobs were lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which led Gov. Phil Murphy to order businesses to close and residents to stay home to avoid spreading the virus.

News 12 Staff

May 22, 2020, 2:52 AM

Updated 1,422 days ago

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The state Labor Department said more than 750,000 jobs were lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which led Gov. Phil Murphy to order businesses to close and residents to stay home to avoid spreading the virus.
“As of this morning, 1.1 million workers have filed new claims for unemployment benefits in New Jersey,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said Thursday.
One of the workers who lost their job during the pandemic is Harout Doghramadjian, a tennis instructor at a club in New Providence. He has been having a lot of issues with the unemployment department.
“I’m not even in the system yet,” he says.
Doghramadjian has been trying to get into that system for 10 weeks. He says that in the meantime he has been racking up credit in order to pay the mortgage on his house in Bogota and to pay the monthly bill on his car. He says that he is now living with his cousin just to survive.
Photos: Your Coronavirus Pandemic Experience
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“Emotionally, I’m really racked. I’m like a wild man. I’m angry so many times. I talk to myself. I can’t sleep,” he says.
But Doghramadjian’s story is not unusual. News 12 New Jersey has spoken to dozens of New Jersey residents who have not gotten a reply for unemployment for 13 weeks.
Asaro-Angelo says that the Labor Department is now contacting people via text and email. He touts the fact that $3.4 billion in benefits has been paid out since the crisis began.
But for thousands like Doghramadjian who are running out of money, these numbers do not mean much.
The Labor Department estimates that by mid-June they will be processing more than 1 million unemployment certifications per week.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.


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