Within days of record unemployment reported in New Jersey, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) voted in favor of the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 providing up to 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits for New Jersey's jobless.
"This is just another example of this Congress and this federal government being responsive to the needs of American citizens," said Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and an original co-sponsor of the bill. "As we continue to make every effort to get people back to work, we are helping people meet some of their basic needs to get through this recession."
Pascrell noted that within days of New Jersey's August unemployment rate being reported to be 9.7 percent -- the state's highest since 1977 -- he and his congressional colleagues provided the responsive legislation. The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act allows states that have had three months of unemployment rates greater than 8.5 percent to provide up to 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits to jobless people.
New Jersey's average weekly unemployment benefit is $384, less than half of the average weekly wage earned in the state. The national average weekly unemployment check of $300 was given a $25 increase from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In normal economic conditions, the U.S. Department of Labor provides unemployed persons with benefits for 26 weeks. New Jersey's unemployed may receive an additional 20 weeks through the federal Extended Benefits Program when there is deterioration in the labor market.
States also have the option of providing jobless people between 20 and 33 additional weeks of benefits through the Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program.
In previous years, the federal government has provided half of the funding for a state's program. This year, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal government is funding the entire program for states.