Unemployment data released by the state doesn't tell the whole story, KIYC investigation finds

A Kane In Your Corner investigation finds unemployment numbers don't tell the whole story.

News 12 Staff

Jun 2, 2020, 1:14 AM

Updated 1,511 days ago

Share:

Figures released by Gov. Phil Murphy recently show that nearly 80% of people who filed for unemployment in New Jersey since the COVID-19 pandemic began are now receiving benefits. But a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds those numbers don't tell the whole story.
After 10 weeks with neither a job nor unemployment benefits, Dana Brisbane says she is feeling the stress.
"There are times I go to bed and I’m concerned – will I have enough food to feed my family over the next couple of days," she says.
Brisbane has been out of work since March 17. She and her husband are struggling to support a family of five on just his unemployment benefits and the money their 16-year-old son has been able to earn mowing lawns in the neighborhood.
To hear the governor and state labor commissioner tell it, cases like the Brisbanes are the exception, as New Jersey plows through a backlog of unemployment cases.
"We have roughly 1.17 million New Jerseyans who have filed unemployment claims since this emergency began," Murphy said at a briefing last week. "Of that 1.17 million, 911,000 of these claims have been fulfilled, and residents are receiving their benefits."
But Kane In Your Corner found the numbers can be deceiving. Brisbane's case has never gotten beyond the "pending" stage. And according to the DOL's computer system, the case does not appear to be officially "filed." When Brisbane has attempted to certify, just to see what would happen, she has gotten a message telling her there has never been a claim filed under her social security number.
According to the statistics, Mike Taylor is one of the lucky 78% of applicants of unemployment now receiving benefits. But he doesn't feel very lucky. To date, he only received one payment of $231. He never received the $600 in supplemental federal unemployment and after the one state payment, he says the benefits stopped and future weeks were marked "not payable at this time".
And Angela Delli Santi, a spokesperson for the NJDOL, admits that paradoxically, claims marked "not payable" are often listed in the weekly statistics as "paid".
"Their claim has been reviewed and is 'filed,' no longer 'pending'," Delli Santi says. "They would be counted among the 911k (people) who have claimed benefits during the pandemic."
Delli Santi, however, contends the state is also dealing with many complex cases, such as applicants with wages in multiple states, and doing so faster than other states.
Those explanations are no longer acceptable to Michele Izzi, who runs the Facebook group, #NJ Unemployment Pandemic.
"We're beyond 'let's be patient,'” she says. "That's gone."
The group's 6,000 members share a litany of unanswered phone calls, unpaid claims and often unbearable stress, things that don't show up in any statistical report.
"Do you know how many times, Walt, that I’ve given out the 1-800 number to the suicide hotline?" she asks Kane In Your Corner rhetorically. "More than I can count. More than I count. This is inhumane."


More from News 12
2:32
Multiple alarm fire damages Bayonne home; no injuries

Multiple alarm fire damages Bayonne home; no injuries

1:36
‘Too old.’ ‘A surprise.’ ‘It’s mature.’ New Jersey residents react to Biden’s decision to step down

‘Too old.’ ‘A surprise.’ ‘It’s mature.’ New Jersey residents react to Biden’s decision to step down

2:15
Mix of sun and clouds in New Jersey before pop-up showers, storms this evening

Mix of sun and clouds in New Jersey before pop-up showers, storms this evening

2:18
Do you know how accurate your credit report is? Kane in Your Corner shows you how to spot, fix mistakes

Do you know how accurate your credit report is? Kane in Your Corner shows you how to spot, fix mistakes

0:19
Parking garage fire causes Stop & Shop in Union to close

Parking garage fire causes Stop & Shop in Union to close

1:33
President Biden announces end of 2024 bid for presidency; endorses VP Kamala Harris for pick

President Biden announces end of 2024 bid for presidency; endorses VP Kamala Harris for pick

4:22
How VP Kamela Harris could get presidential nomination after the end of Biden's reelection bid

How VP Kamela Harris could get presidential nomination after the end of Biden's reelection bid

1:00
NJ Democratic lawmakers thank President Biden for his service in wake decision to step down

NJ Democratic lawmakers thank President Biden for his service in wake decision to step down

2:08
National and local lawmakers stunned by Biden's decision not to seek reelection

National and local lawmakers stunned by Biden's decision not to seek reelection

Officials release statements following President Biden's decision to end reelection bid

Officials release statements following President Biden's decision to end reelection bid

1:41
Some NJ voters weren't surprised Biden chose to end reelection bid

Some NJ voters weren't surprised Biden chose to end reelection bid

0:56
Belleville church hosts blood drive to combat shortage over summer

Belleville church hosts blood drive to combat shortage over summer

1:01
Edison High School assistant principal accused of making threats to Muslim students

Edison High School assistant principal accused of making threats to Muslim students

0:17
Police: Stratford man killed in motorcycle crash near Tinton Falls

Police: Stratford man killed in motorcycle crash near Tinton Falls

0:27
Delta: Unaccompanied minor travel paused following global technology outage

Delta: Unaccompanied minor travel paused following global technology outage

0:34
Over 1,600 U.S. flights canceled Saturday due to global technology outage

Over 1,600 U.S. flights canceled Saturday due to global technology outage

0:19
Police: 4 people injured in East Windsor crash

Police: 4 people injured in East Windsor crash

1:30
Officials: Calls to 988 have increased since its creation 2 years ago

Officials: Calls to 988 have increased since its creation 2 years ago

1:59
Flight disruptions persist at Newark Liberty Int’l Airport due to global technology outage

Flight disruptions persist at Newark Liberty Int’l Airport due to global technology outage

1:49
Toms River firefighters headed to national competition

Toms River firefighters headed to national competition