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April 02, 2020

Unemployment claims in Pennsylvania, New Jersey keep skyrocketing amid coronavirus crisis

More than 6 million Americans file for jobless benefits

Business Coronavirus
Pennsylvania New Jersey unemployment benefits GoogleMaps/StreetView

Unemployment claims soared for the second-straight week in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the result of massive job losses prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment insurance claims continued to soar last week in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, reflecting the national surge prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

There were 405,880 first-time claims submitted in Pennsylvania last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That marked an increase of more than 377,000 from the previous week. Just two weeks ago, there only 15,439 unemployment claims were made.

Similarly, a record 205,515 claims were filed in New Jersey last week, an increase of 89,700 from the prior week. Two weeks ago, only 9,500 initial claims were filed. 

Nationally, a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, doubling the astounding 3.3 million claims from the prior week. Only 282,000 claims were submitted two weeks ago. 

Many Pennsylvania and New Jersey workers lost their jobs – or saw their hours slashed – after the states' governors ordered all non-essential businesses to close amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

Both states are providing resources for residents who are looking for work during the outbreak or in need of unemployment benefits.

Pennsylvania’s job bank, CareerLink, lists more than 175,000 job openings, including 26,000 in the Philadelphia suburbs. New Jersey created a special jobs bank for the coronavirus outbreak. It includes more than 46,000 openings across the state.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry is offering unemployment and workers' compensation benefits to all full-time and part-time workers who experience loss, including temporary loss, of their jobs due to COVID-19.

Workers may be eligible for unemployment compensation if their employer temporarily closed or went out of business, or if their hours were reduced, according to state officials. They also may be eligible if they needed to quarantine or self-isolate, or if their employer instructed them to avoid work due to fear that they could spread the virus. 

For full-time employees, unemployment benefits cover 50% of their weekly gross income. Additionally, anyone who was exposed to COVID-19 at work may be eligible for worker's compensation. Those who need to file for unemployment or workers' compensation benefits in Pennsylvania can visit the department's website for filing instructions.

New Jersey is providing financial relief through the state's earned sick leave law — which covers public health emergencies. Residents are eligible if the person's workplace or their child's school or daycare closed due to the pandemic. They also are eligible if a quarantine is recommended by health officials or if they need to take care of themselves or a family member.

These benefits are applicable to full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers. Employees can earn up to 40 hours of sick leave a year — or 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Any New Jersey workers needing to file for sick leave should contact their employer. 

Murphy announced Tuesday that residents eligible for unemployment benefits will receive an additional $600 through July.

Pennsylvania has 7,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases of COVID-19, including 90 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. The majority of cases have appeared in Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania, totaling 3,637 cases across all five counties.

New Jersey has 25,590 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 537 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. While the majority of cases have popped up in North Jersey, South Jersey has 941 cases.

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