Murphy Says More NJ Unemployment Offices Will Reopen in Few Weeks
TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy expects more unemployment offices to open in the weeks ahead, which could help with a steady stream of complaints from unemployed residents seeking benefits.
While the overwhelming majority of unemployment cases that developed during the pandemic have been addressed, some Republican lawmakers are criticizing the administration for keeping the Department of Labor's One-Stop Centers closed.
Labor Department officials say a minority of claims have stalled for a variety of reasons, including incorrect or incomplete information and challenges from former employers. And it also would appear a very small percentage of cases have also seemingly slipped through the cracks.
During the COVID update in Trenton on Wednesday, Murphy was asked what can be done to help people who insist they have done everything right in filing for unemployment but have been left waiting, sometimes for months.
“If there is frustration and there is a legitimate claim that is not being met, I have nothing but sympathy and commit that we’re going to help them get it resolved,” he said, adding that he would "put our record up against any state over the past two years.”
The governor said there is no quick fix for dealing with these issues. However, because every case is different with multiple variables involved.
“Whenever we hear of someone’s situation, particularly over the past probably year or more, it’s let’s understand their specifics,” he noted.
“Overwhelmingly these situations are hand-tailored suits. Many of them sadly are not going to end up being valid for one reason or another, which is a sad result.”
No false hopes
When asked about the idea of opening more One Stop Centers for in-person assistance with unemployment issues, he said “they’re coming."
"I said that last week and I think it is a matter of weeks, bare with me on that, but that will happen," he said.
The governor said even when more in-person opportunities for assistance are available, that is not going to mean that all claims that have been put on hold or rejected for a valid reason will be changed.
Murphy also pointed out while upgrades to the New Jersey unemployment computer system are being discussed, “we are beholden to an antiquated federal unemployment benefits system.”