Pandemic pushes NJ jobless claims to a record 206K

The New Jersey Labor Department says the number of state residents applying for unemployment benefits last week was 32% percent higher than the week prior.

More than 206,000 claims came during the week ending March 28, which surpasses the previous week’s record-setting filings by 155,000, according to a department statement released Thursday.

Officials say the statewide lockdown and its resulting business shutdowns — imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus and protect public health — is behind the sharp rise of requests for unemployment assistance.

Before the current crisis, New Jersey last established a record for jobless benefits applications in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy forced 46,000 residents to file for unemployment.

New Jerseyans seeking work during the pandemic can find job listings for essential businesses on the state government’s website.