State senator suggests shuffling around state employees to assist understaffed unemployment department

A New Jersey State senator says he has an idea to help assist the understaffed unemployment department and help thousands of New Jerseyans get their benefits.

News 12 Staff

May 2, 2020, 2:09 AM

Updated 1,445 days ago

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There are currently at least 200,000 unresolved unemployment claims in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy is under increased scrutiny to address the issue. The governor says that the state has processed 193,000 claims in the last two weeks. But many others who have tried to file claims are met with a website site that does not seem to work properly and phone calls that go unanswered.
State Sen. Michael Doherty is suggesting shuffling around other state employees who normally work out of Trenton and moving them to the Department of Labor.
But the department says that it is not as easy as what Doherty is suggesting. The department says that state workers are not interchangeable.
“Part of the problem is the person has to be in someone’s unemployment file. And in their claim to make those changes. Someone who has been working for us for years or months at least,” says Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “That process is not simple. They also need to have an FBI or state police background check. So, we can’t just hire a whole bunch of folks who are now unemployed.”
But the backlog is incredibly frustrating for those who have been out of work for weeks.
William Farrell has been out of work since March 28. He works at an auto body shop in Wayne and has been told that he qualifies for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, but has not gotten any money so far.
“None of my bills are going to get paid this month. My rent is not going to get paid. My car insurance is not going to get paid,” he says.
Danielle Sing is in a similar situation, having been out of work since March 13. Every morning she gets on the phone trying to get through to just get her initial interview. She is the mother of two and her family is reliant on her husband’s income.
“Every time I called it would say, ‘Representatives are busy. Please call back tomorrow,’” she says. “It’s really scary because we don’t know how we will pay our bills, our car insurance and food and all we need for the kids.”
Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo says that state employees from other departments have been able to help with the overload of calls, but not the work filing claims.


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