The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has now distributed more than $25.6 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits to New Jersey workers, as the state reported a one-week spike in new claims last week.

For the week ending March 27, the department received 16,716* new unemployment claims, an increase of more than 6,000 from the prior week. The increase was broad-based across industry sectors and included a bump in claims from the self-employed.

For the week, the department distributed $431 million in benefits. The average claimant has received $17,122 in pandemic-related benefits.

More than a year into the pandemic, the vast majority of unemployment claimants are transitioning seamlessly onto their new benefit year, thanks to automated reviews of their claim, which are occurring automatically. New Jersey, the only state to automate this federally mandated review, is reporting a 98% success rate among claims that have gone through the benefit year end review.

The department has also begun its partnership with ID.me, a third-party identity authenticator, that is designed to protect legitimate claimants’ identification and stop those attempting to commit identity theft or fraud. Tens of thousands of claimants are expected to verify their identity through ID.me in the weeks and months ahead.

The American Rescue Plan signed March 11 extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – the $300 supplement – to eligible claimants for 25 weeks, through Sept. 4.

The maximum eligibility for PUA is now 75 weeks. PEUC now provides up to 49 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment. Extended benefits (EB) adds a final 20 weeks of benefits, though that will drop to 13 weeks once the economy recovers sufficiently.

The $300 FPUC supplement is for anyone collecting unemployment in any amount during eligible weeks. There is also a provision in the new rescue law that excludes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits from having to be reported as income on federal taxes for households earning less than $150,000/year.

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