N.J. Senator: Unbusy state workers should be processing 250k outstanding unemployment claims

TRENTON, N.J. – Website server issues, general incompetence, and a steady flow of new unemployment claims (1 million since January 1st as of last Friday) is keeping New Jersey’s unemployment backlog dauntingly large and a major obstacle to workers who desperately need benefits.

State Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) has a partial solution: redeploy idle state workers to help process unemployment claims.

“Many State government workers are sitting at home and getting paid at taxpayer expense while they are unable to do their regular jobs due to the pandemic,” said Doherty on Friday. “Let’s put those idle State workers to use at the currently understaffed and overwhelmed New Jersey Labor Department. With a quarter-of-a-million residents still waiting for their claims to be processed, we need to step up and do all we can to help their families keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.”

California is ahead of New Jersey in this regard. That state has reportedly reassigned 1,300 state employees to the unemployment office.

The need is dire: approximately 250,000 New Jerseyans are stuck in the backlog. Yet thousands of state workers are presently either not working or working remotely while still receiving full taxpayer-funded paychecks.

“We have seen many state workers change jobs successfully in the Golden State, now let’s deploy this strategy in the Garden State,” added Doherty. “Governor Murphy should do this immediately because the ongoing failure of the Department of Labor to process claims in a timely fashion is unacceptable. Unemployed New Jerseyans and their families deserve better during this time of great need.”

Whether Murphy would even consider such a plan is unclear.

Also on Friday, The New Jersey Globe reported that Murphy directed his staff to avoid even initiating furloughs or any other COVID-19 related changes without first clearing them with the politically-powerful CWA public worker union.