NJ won’t extend unemployment benefits — will more people apply for jobs?
Labor Day doesn't mean the end of summer to businesses at the Jersey Shore.
So there's plenty of time for them to potentially benefit from Gov. Phil Murphy's announcement Monday that federal extended unemployment benefits, including the $300 supplemental weekly benefit for those who are out of work, will not continue after their Sept. 4 nationwide expiration date.
Murphy said if the state had decided to extend the perks past Sept. 4 — a move encouraged by President Joe Biden — the state would have to put out more than $1 billion per month to cover the tab.
It's welcome news for business owners who've been struggling for months to find enough workers to meet demand.
"We have many businesses that are still in desperate need of full-time, part-time, anytime employees," Vicki Clark, past president of the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association, told New Jersey 101.5. "A lot of people who have not yet returned to the workforce will probably now be picking up these jobs that are available. And we welcome them back."
Marilyn Schlossbach, who runs a number of restaurants at the Jersey Shore, said she won't be doing much hiring past Labor Day, but the state's decision is one that should benefit the entire restaurant operation — her vendors and cleaning crews have been impacted by staffing shortages as well.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch and people need to get back to work," Schlossbach said.
But, she said, scrapping the extra unemployment dollars is just "one of the puzzle pieces" of getting operations on solid ground.
"There's childcare. ... There's the lack of people wanting to even come back to the industry, and going on to do something else," Schlossbach said.
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, more than $33 billion has gone out the door for pandemic-related unemployment assistance to workers and their families. Federal benefits were extended a few times during the pandemic to those who've either exhausted their benefits or may not have been eligible for benefits pre-pandemic.
"The proper way to extend federal UI benefits is through federal action. not a patchwork of state ones," Gov. Murphy said on social media and during a Monday afternoon press conference. "And it should be noted here that no state is extending this benefit beyond September 4."