Unemployed NJ residents could get $300 extra per week, Murphy says

New Jersey is looking for help from a federal government program to put more money into the pockets of New Jerseyans who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday the state's intention to apply for FEMA's Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program, which pays $300 a week on top of whatever unemployment insurance a person is eligible for. 

"This assistance is intended to help people support themselves and their families as they look for work," FEMA states on the program website. "An extra $300 per week will help those struggling with unemployment to buy school supplies for their children, put food on the table and possibly prevent eviction."

The $300 is half of the supplemental $600 payment that was going out to millions of Americans on unemployment but expired several weeks ago. Murphy, a Democrat, is calling on Congress and the president to extend that benefit.

"What our workers and families need is for the president and Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reauthorize the $600 federal weekly unemployment benefit they allowed to expire at the end of July," Murphy said. "While we will investigate every possible penny that we can get into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families, only reauthorizing the $600 weekly federal unemployment would provide the security that so many of our residents and, frankly, fellow Americans need at this moment."

At this moment, it isn't clear when the benefit would begin, assuming FEMA approves New Jersey's application, but the head of the state's Department of Labor said New Jerseyans who qualify would likely receive a lump-sum payment retroactive to the beginning of August. Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo explained that federal red tape makes implementing the program complicated. 

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