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Jobless Rate Reaches Record 15.3% in April as NJ Deals With Coronavirus Shutdowns

New Jersey officials said Thursday that the state's unemployment rate climbed to 15.3% in April, up from 3.8% the previous month. 

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What to Know

  • State officials say New Jersey's unemployment rate climbed to 15.3% in April, up from 3.8% the previous month. 
  • The state labor department said more than 750,000 jobs were lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which led Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to order businesses to close and residents to stay home to avoid spreading the virus.
  • As of Thursday, more than 151,000 people had tested positive for the new coronavirus in New Jersey. Nearly 11,000 people have died.

New Jersey is preparing for people to return to Jersey Shore beaches this Memorial Day weekend -- with social distancing measures -- as new numbers show how hard the pandemic has hit the economy.

As of Thursday, New Jersey had more than 151,000 coronavirus cases and at least 10,843 people who died from COVID-19-related complications, with 98 new deaths announced Thursday.

Overall, key indicators like COVID-19 patients in critical care and hospitalizations have been dropping now for weeks, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Only Cumberland and Hunterdon counties have had COVID-19 cases double in the past 30 days.

"Each day brings with it surer signs that we’re moving closer to being able to enter Phase 2 of our economic restart," Murphy said.

With hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases slowing, Murphy has restarted businesses and outdoor spaces -- on Friday beaches will officially reopen -- in recent weeks. But, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans remain out of work as many indoor spaces remain closed.

NJ Jobless Rate Reaches Record 15.3% in April

New Jersey lost more than 750,000 jobs in April because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 15.3%, the state labor department said Thursday.

The 757,700 lost jobs in April is a record, the department said in a statement. The rate jumped from 3.8% in March.

The virus led Murphy to shutter many businesses and order residents to stay home in late March. The hardest hit sectors are leisure and hospitality, which lost about 237,000 jobs, followed by the trade and transportation and education sectors.

The state also had 42,000 new applications for jobless benefits last week, down from the roughly 70,000 claims the week before. In total the state has had more than 1 million claims since outbreak began to ramp up in mid-March, according to the department.

"We are 100% committed to getting you the support you need," Murphy said. "Every New Jerseyan who has applied for unemployment benefits will receive them."

So far $3.4 billion has been paid out in jobless benefits, the statement said.

The national unemployment rate reached 14.7% in April, the highest since the Great Depression.

In an attempt to reach out to businesses and nonprofits looking to get back on track, Murphy promoted a survey aimed at formulating next steps back.

NJ GOP Sues Murphy

The state Republican Party filed a lawsuit Thursday in state Superior Court in Cape May County seeking to overturn Murphy's executive orders shuttering nonessential businesses.

State Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt says Murphy overreached arbitrarily when he singled out which businesses were considered nonessential.

GOP state Sen. Michael Testa, who is also an attorney, said during a video teleconference that the governor's orders could mean the end of boardwalk shops, for instance, which aren't currently permitted to open even as the unofficial start of summer arrives this weekend.

Murphy didn't have answers to questions about the suit Thursday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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