Labor commissioner: ‘We’re doing everything in our power’ to distribute unemployment benefits

New Jersey Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo attended Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus public briefing for the first time in over a month to address concerns about unemployment.

News 12 Staff

May 7, 2020, 9:08 PM

Updated 1,445 days ago

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New Jersey Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo attended Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus public briefing for the first time in over a month to address concerns about unemployment.
Murphy and Asaro-Angelo said that they understand the frustrations of thousands of New Jersey residents who have gone weeks without getting their benefits.
People who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic have faced crashed websites, an often-unresponsive phone system and weeks of waiting.
“We’re doing everything in our power to get everyone the income they are entitled to,” the commissioner said.
Asaro-Angelo and the governor defended the Labor Department’s progress at sorting through what they call an unprecedented wave of unemployment claims.
“I’ve said this before, we know this is of little comfort to those who are waiting to receive benefits. We have over 1 million claimants and have paid close to 700,000 of them, including the pandemic unemployment assistance,” Asaro-Angelo said.
Asaro-Angelo said that over 100 new workers and dozens of retirees have gone to work processing unemployment claims. A new call center could be up and running within a few weeks. And a programming rewrite now allows more than half the claims that would have required intervention by a worker to pass through the system.
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“Nobody demeans any of these individual stories. But they really are anomalies - those that are waiting a long time,” Murphy said.
The governor also responded to the criticism, after at least one Republican assemblyman called for Asaro-Angelo to resign.
“Rob's not going anywhere. This is a 500-year flood, he and his team have laid it out, and I know, that's not making up for anyone's frustrations, I know. I don't blame you. But all I would say to anyone who thinks that, go to another state,” Murphy said.
The Department of Labor has so far paid out over $1 billion in benefits.


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