Before the year closes out, unemployment benefits came to an end for many New Jerseyans. New Jersey Policy Perspective President Gordon MacInnes told NJTV News Anchor Jack Ford that emergency unemployment benefits won’t return unless Congress makes a decision.
“Right now, the answer is that the long term unemployment benefits which kick in after somebody’s been unemployed for at least six months, they are gone and they’re not coming back unless congress changes it’s mind,” said MacInnes.
As of Saturday Dec.28 the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program expired affecting many nationwide. Meanwhile the federal benefits came to an end, MacInnes said that state unemployment benefits did not.
Whether the EUC program returns, MacInnes said that a member of the Republican caucus or the House of Representatives would have the answer since they could not reach an agreement with the Senate and the President to continue those benefits.
MacInnes said that there are going to be examples of people who are not working hard to find a job but through requirements of the law, there are people looking for jobs. With just the state benefits for a family in New Jersey, those benefits are not enough according to MacInnes.
“I’m sure that when you have millions of people unemployed for a long time I’m sure there’s going to be examples of people who are not out working hard to find a job,” said MacInnes. “However, given the requirements of the law and the checking that takes place through the state, and the state labor and workforce development department, people are looking for jobs, they don’t want to be unemployed.”
On Election Day, New Jersey voters approved to raise the minimum wage to $8.25, which will begin to take place as of Jan. 1. MacInnes said that about a quarter of a million workers will be affected by the increase. Along with the workers making between $7.25 and $8.25, about 100,000 workers will also see their salaries increase over time as their pay pegs the minimum wage.
MacInnes said that there has been academic studies on what happens when the minimum wage increases and that there are studies that show an increase in the number of jobs following the increase in the minimum wage.