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Governor Murphy Fixes the Unemployment Mess | Jersey Journal Editorial

Enough is enough, Governor Murphy. You need to do something about the abysmal service record – and we use that term loosely – at the New Jersey unemployment office.

Ever since the pandemic hit and thousands of New Jerseyans suddenly found themselves unemployed, we’ve heard horror stories of people unable to file their claims, get their benefits, or just get an answer.

Yes, we are thinking of the staff at the State’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development who have been hit with a massive increase in claims as they themselves grapple with labor issues. pandemic at home and working remotely.

But that was two years ago.

The time is long past for the department to get its act together, clean up the backlogs and deal with the claims issues.

One of the Jersey Journal’s editors was recently the victim of identity theft and received a notice from the state that an unemployment claim had been filed in his name. She had to immediately report it as fraudulent, but there was no way to reach the office by phone or get a response online or by email. She detailed her odyssey — still ongoing, by the way — in a column last week. It generated a deluge of notes to the Jersey Journal from people across the state also frustrated with the inability to get to the unemployment office.

Most of these frustrated people have lost their jobs and need unemployment benefits to survive. They and their former employers have paid into the unemployment system, and now is the time for the state to do what an unemployment office is supposed to do: cut off their bailout checks.

“(I) called every day every hour of the day for 50 days and the system automatically hangs up,” one woman wrote of an unemployment claim she filed last year that ended in was complicated by a concurrent case of disability. “You can’t do anything…still in limbo…don’t know who will pay my bills????”

Another woman: “I’ve been trying to reach someone for months about my father’s temporary incapacity – I can’t reach anyone. He has been without benefits since October. I called, faxed and wrote letters. Nobody cares.”

And another: “Here I am going through my credit cards as a single mom trying to keep a roof over our heads while STILL waiting for my unemployment benefits, PLEASE HELP!!!!!!! !”

It’s not just those who are endlessly waiting for checks who contact us.

“The Department of Labor is completely… inaccessible,” one man wrote. “As an employer, I’ve literally called and emailed them maybe hundreds of times. And I’ve never received any type of response – ever, ever.

Another man remarked: “Like many, many others, I have been trying to establish telephone contact with them since the beginning of September. I have also tried emailing and writing letters to various department heads and still nothing. If it was a private company, various state regulators would have launched an investigation a long time ago.

He is right.

The state or federal government would rightly be called upon to investigate and sanction a private company refusing to respond to a customer or withholding employee wages. Criminal charges could even be laid.

But who do you call when it’s the state itself in disarray?

We lay it at your feet, Governor Murphy.

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