KIYC: About 25% of unemployed New Jersey residents are still waiting for benefits

Thirteen weeks after unemployment rates started spiking in New Jersey due to the coronavirus pandemic, approximately 1 in 4 unemployed New Jersey residents are waiting for benefits to either start or resume, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds.
The estimate is based on an analysis of new numbers released Thursday by the state Department of Labor, as well as thousands of viewer contacts.
"We know that not every New Jersey resident is getting the help they need yet," admits Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The Department of Labor released new weekly unemployment numbers Thursday, and for the first time, it included the number of people who are actually receiving benefits: about 958,000. That's approximately 94% of the 1.02 million people who qualified to claim benefits - meaning the status of their claims changed from "pending" to "filed" - and about 79% of the 1.2 million total claims filed.
The more detailed numbers come a week after Kane In Your Corner exposed that the Department of Labor had been inflating the numbers, by prematurely reporting people as receiving benefits as soon as they qualified to claim benefits. That meant people like Sandra Pierre would have been reported as having been paid, even though she has not.
But Kane In Your Corner notes that even those who actually have received payment have not necessarily received everything they owe. In fact, thousands have received only a single payment before their claims were then marked "not payable at this time".
"I’d love to have Walt sit down with our data folks for a few hours, because this is very complicated stuff," Asaro-Angelo says. "But yes, he's right, that 94% included folks who might have collected for a week or two."
Two of eight families who allowed Kane In Your Corner to document their efforts to collect unemployment benefits have also still not received any.
"I’m trying to hang in there as long as I can," says Larry Trussell, of New Brunswick. "But I don’t know what’s going to happen."
"I don’t know how I am going to make it to the next month," echoes Sandra Pierre, of Newark.
Trussell and Pierre both filed for unemployment benefits on March 15. Trussell's claim is listed as "pending," Pierre's as "filed."
The other six families followed by Kane In Your Corner have received benefits, but for some it took a while. Nick Genito, Steve Estok and Michelle Cox were paid in six weeks or less.
By contrast, it took Dave Wisneski 12 weeks, Mary Ellen Rankl 10 weeks, and Phil Batista nine weeks to receive benefits. Rankl was also recently notified that the state may attempt to claw benefits back. She's not sure why.