Murphy Declines to Extend COVID-related UI Benefits Past Sept. 4 Expiration Date
BY JIM PYTELL, MANAGING EDITOR ON AUG 30, 2021 NJBIA
Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that he will not extend current expanded unemployment benefits, including a supplemental $300 per week payment, past their Sept. 4 expiration date. The decision is expected to affect approximately 500,000 New Jersey residents.
After Congress declined to lengthen the expanded federal unemployment benefits for a fourth time past the current Sept. 4 expiration date, President Joe Biden suggested that states use COVID-19 relief funds to extend the benefits instead.
“The proper way to extend federal UI benefits is through federal action, not a patchwork of state ones,” Murphy said today at his weekly COVID-19 briefing.
He added that New Jersey is not alone and that no state is extending the benefit beyond Sept. 4.
“The reality is that continuing the $300 per week benefit through state resources would be cost prohibitive,” the governor said, adding a continuation would cost “at least $314 million per week, and perhaps hundreds of million of dollars more.”
“We are talking about well over $1 billion per month to maintain this benefit at its current level,” he added.
Overall, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL) has put $33.7 billion directly into the accounts of nearly 1.6 million New Jerseyans since the start of the pandemic. Of that, $25 billion have been federal dollars.
“We have some of the most generous unemployment benefits in the country, and we consistently hold the top ranking for percentage of unemployed workers receiving benefits,” Murphy said.
“We recognize the impact that this will have on some families facing unemployment issues. To support New Jerseyans living through the economic impacts of the pandemic, we have invested in rent-assistance, food-assistance, child-care assistance, health-care affordability assistance, and other support programs we have set up and which are funded through billions of dollars of federal coronavirus relief funds,” Murphy added.