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Vitale-Pou Applaud Signing of Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale and Senator Nellie Pou to extend unemployment benefits at a time of severe economic stress and uncertainty was signed into law today.

“In the spring, millions of people became unemployed through no fault of their own, and have since been receiving unemployment benefits while they continue to look for work. However, for some these benefits are set to run out in the middle of December, leaving countless New Jersey residents without any financial security for the foreseeable future,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This is an essential piece of legislation that will ensure New Jersey’s extended benefits program eligibility is evaluated in the most generous way possible under federal law. Our residents need help, now, to pay their bills and survive during this pandemic. This law will help them do that.”

“The pandemic has ravaged the state’s economy and left far too many families without any financial security other than their unemployment benefits. These benefits were set to expire in the coming weeks, but thanks to today’s signing that won’t be the case,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Despite very good news about a COVID-19 vaccine, this public health crisis will likely continue well into the new year and we have a responsibility to our residents to ensure they receive the financial support they need.”

The law, S-3063, will allow more people to become eligible for unemployment extended benefits for up to an additional 20 weeks.

This change comes at a crucial time, as claimants currently receive 26 weeks of regular unemployment and 13 weeks of benefits under the federal CARES Act. That means a worker laid off on March 15, the week after Governor Murphy declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19, would be processed for extended benefits during the week of December 12.

Senator Vitale, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez outlined the impetus for the bill in their recent op-ed published here in the Star-Ledger.