Gov. Christie signs Democratic-sponsored bill extending unemployment relief | Economy | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Gov. Christie signs Democratic-sponsored bill extending unemployment relief

jobsbriefcase031011_optDemocratic-sponsored measure extends benefits through end of year

Gov. Chris Christie has signed Democratic-sponsored legislation designed to provide relief for New Jerseyans confronting long-term unemployment due to the economic recession.

The measure (S-2680) revises the state’s unemployment compensation law to extend the period for receiving federally funded extended unemployment benefits through the end of this year.

The federally funded continuation, which was part of the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010,” will not affect the state budget, the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, or employers.

 

“We’re happy to continue a safety net, in cooperation with the federal government, for more than 60,000 unemployed people in New Jersey as our economy slowly improves and our small, but steady job growth continues,” Christie said Monday. “This legislation provides relief for the long-term unemployed and at the same time will positively impact our economy by extending the purchasing power of unemployed New Jerseyans.”

The legislation revises the eligibility formula for extended benefits by using three preceding years of data, as opposed to the current formula which looked only at the two preceding calendar years of information. By revising the eligibility formula for extended employment insurance benefits, New Jersey will no longer risk ineligibility because of the recent decline in the unemployment rate.

Previously, extended benefits became effective if the total unemployment rate in the state for the most recent three-month period for which data is available; equals or exceeds 110 percent of the average unemployment rate in the State during either or both of the corresponding three-month periods ending in the two preceding calendar years; and equals or exceeds 6.5 percent, in which case 13 weeks of extended benefits will be provided; or equals or exceeds 8 percent, in which case 20 weeks of extended benefits will be provided.

About 390,000 New Jerseyans are unemployed.

“This legislation will rescue many people who are about to exhaust their ability to collect benefits," state Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said. “At the same time, there will be no impact on New Jersey’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.”

Senators Fred Madden (D-Camden) and Jim Beach (D-Camden) sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

"While we continue to strive to improve our economy and create jobs in New Jersey, the stubborn fact remains that far too many people are currently unemployed and coming very close to having their final lifeline cut,” Madden said. “By changing the trigger for unemployment benefits, we are helping people pay their mortgage and keep putting food on the table while they look for a job.”

“Unemployment benefits are vital to those who have fallen on hard times, but crucial for those who have been out of work the longest. Additionally, it has been shown that unemployment benefits are the greatest form of stimulus, because the money goes right back into the economy,” Beach added.

The Christie administration has a worked to change the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund while at the same time modernizing access for the unemployed.

In February, in the face of a fiscal emergency and 10.1 percent unemployment, Christie signed legislation attempts to protect businesses from an average $400 per employee, or 52 percent, increase in the unemployment insurance payroll tax.

The Labor Department, through newly expanded website services, has begun allowing recipients to receive unemployment benefits earlier in the week as well as moving to deliver benefits electronically by using direct deposit to bank accounts and debit cards.

Other sponsors of the legislation include Assemblymen Joseph Egan (D-Middlesex), Daniel Benson (D-Mercer), Wayne DeAnegelo (D-Mercer), and Jason O’Donnell (D-Hudson).

— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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