20K Seek Jobless Help in NJ, Falling 21% Over Prior Week

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

The number of people applying for jobless benefits in New Jersey last week fell to just over 20,000, a 21% drop compared with the prior week, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

The state’s jobless claims have soared to more than 1.5 million, primarily because of the response to the coronavirus outbreak, officials have said.

Last week also marked a sharp drop in how much the state paid out in benefits, falling to $316 million. The drop reflects the July 25 expiration of a federal $600 weekly benefit for all unemployed residents. Typically, the Labor Department said, the state paid out about $500 million weekly.

New Jersey has applied for a federal $300 weekly benefit for those who lost work because of the virus, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. That benefit was announced recently by Republican President Donald Trump in the absence of a deal with Congress to renew jobless benefits.

The state is not opting to chip in an additional $100 a week, as envisioned under the president’s proposal. Murphy cited the cost to the state as a factor.

New Jersey has had more than 190,000 positive cases of the virus and over 14,000 deaths. The state has been reopening, with gyms cleared to reopen at 25% on Tuesday.

A look at other developments:

HEALTH EMERGENCY RENEWED

Murphy on Thursday extended an executive order extending a public health emergency for a sixth time.

The first-term governor says the order allows his administration to continue mitigating the spread of the virus.

Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, such an emergency expires after 30 days unless it’s renewed.

The order was previously extended April 7, May 6, June 4, July 2 and Aug. 1.

BY THE NUMBERS

New Jersey reported fewer than 400 new positive cases overnight for a total of roughly 191,000 cases, Murphy said in a tweet.

There were seven new fatalities reported overnight, he added. The death toll stands at 14,141.