N.J. has nation’s 2nd highest unemployment rate even as we reopen. What that means for our economy.

New Jersey is the only state in the nation to see the number of new coronavirus cases drop in the last two weeks, but the pandemic’s financial impact continues to grow, according to a new Rutgers study.

The economic freeze, fueled by coronavirus restrictions that shut down businesses for months and urged residents to stay home, has found the Garden State experiencing historic losses and rebounds that would typically take years happen in just a few weeks.

James Hughes, economist and University professor at Rutgers University, warns the unstable economy is a “life force of its own.”And that, he s… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: July 27th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: COVID-19, New Jersey | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on N.J. has nation’s 2nd highest unemployment rate even as we reopen. What that means for our economy.

Scharfenberger forgoes legislative salary until his constituents’ unemployment claims are fulfilled

Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger

Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, PhD, (R-Monmouth) is forgoing his legislative salary until the unemployment insurance claims of his LD-13 constituents are fulfilled.

Read the rest of this entry » Posted: April 20th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: COVID-19, LD 13, Legislature, Monmouth County News, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

N.J. lost thousands of jobs in February

assetContent (82)TRENTON — New Jersey’s unemployment rate fell two percentage points in February, even as the state recorded a loss of more than 10,000 private-sector jobs. The state also gained 1,600 public-sector jobs in February, bringing the total job losses to 8,600. But the February unemployment rate, 4.3 percent, is the lowest since pre-recession August 2007, according… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County News, News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on N.J. lost thousands of jobs in February

Thousands of jobs lost in N.J. in March, including losses in the trades

assetContent (73)New Jersey shed 6,400 jobs in March, according to new federal data, with the biggest losses posted in trade, transportation and utilities and professional and business services. The state’s unemployment rate ticked up last month as well, increasing to 6.5 percent, the preliminary data released by the state labor department on Thursday shows. That’s up from… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, New Jersey | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Thousands of jobs lost in N.J. in March, including losses in the trades

Forever unemployed: Why N.J.’s long-term jobless rate remains among highest in U.S.

17417223-mmmainAlain Chahine lost his job two years ago. Since then, he said, he has completed more than 600 applications and sent 200 messages to his network looking for leads. Those efforts produced 18 interviews in 2013, 35 more in 2014 and 12 so far this year, Chahine said. But the number of full-time job offers to… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 6th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Forever unemployed: Why N.J.’s long-term jobless rate remains among highest in U.S.

5 former NJ inmates charged with stealing $100K in unemployment benefits while in jail

5 former NJ inmates charged with stealing $100K in unemployment benefits while in jail (via NJ.com)

Five former state inmates have been charged with stealing approximately $100,000 in unemployment insurance benefits while they were in county jails and ineligible to receive them, the state Attorney General’s office said today. The inmates, along…

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Posted: June 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Crime, Crime and Punishment, News | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on 5 former NJ inmates charged with stealing $100K in unemployment benefits while in jail

Jobless rate rises in NJ as state lost 1,300 jobs in March

Jobless rate rises in NJ as state lost 1,300 jobs in March (via NJ.com)

Unemployment rose slightly in New Jersey last month as the state lost about 1,300 jobs, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The private sector shed 700 jobs, according to the report, and the public sector lost 600…

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Posted: April 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, New Jersey | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Jobless rate rises in NJ as state lost 1,300 jobs in March

Handlin’s Legislation Will Spur Job Growth

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin

Legislation that would eliminate the scheduled 10% surcharge on employers’ unemployment insurance tax was cleared by the Assembly Labor Committee today.

The bill, A-4112/A-3675, sponsored by Assemblywomen Amy Handlin (R-13, Monmouth) and Alison Little McHose (R-24, Hunterdon, Morris, Warren and Sussex), postpones the implementation of the surcharge, which is currently scheduled to go into effect on July 1, for one year.  An identical bill, S-2404, passed the State Senate unanimously in February.

The Office of Legislative Services estimates that eliminating the surcharge will save employers $300 million in the coming fiscal year.

“The timing of this legislation is critical as we approach the summer season and with the effort to restore the Jersey Shore well underway,” stated Handlin. “Rebuilding communities involves both residential and commercial redevelopment. Companies who invest in our economy would face significant unemployment insurance increases which could impact their hiring decisions. This legislation ensures that the strides made in putting people back to work will  not be affected by the cost increases that would have been felt under this  surcharge.”


Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 13th Legislative District, Amy Handlin, Business, Economy, LD 13, Legislature, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Handlin’s Legislation Will Spur Job Growth

Stupid Republicans Are Losing The Public

As Governor Christie has often said, Republicans underestimate President Barack Obama at their own peril.

Using the authority granted to him in the ObamaCare bill that had to be passed before America could find out what was in it, Obama mandated that contraceptives be covered by all health insurance plans, including those provided by employers affiliated with religions that are morally opposed to contraception.

Obama laid a trap for Republicans.  They fell for it like a horny teenage girl whose boyfriend promised her he would pull out.  It’s almost too late to reverse the consequences.

Now the national debate is over contraception.  Not unemployment.  Not foreclosures. Not war.  Not terrorism. Not the price of gasoline. Not the national debt.  Not the mandates of ObamCare.  We’re having a national debate about contraception.  Republicans have been framed as anti-contraception and as too far out of the mainstream to be a relevant political party.

Republicans could have framed this debate in context of their commitment to repeal ObamaCare if the law is not overturned by the Supreme Court.  Instead they got into a national debate over contraception that will hamper, if not destroy, their chances of winning the White House and/or the Senate, even if the Court overturns ObamaCare.

Republicans in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail need to stop talking about contraception.  They don’t have the votes to stop what Obama is doing.  If they keep doing what they are doing, they never will.

It’s the economy, stupid.

Posted: March 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Congressional Races, 2012 Presidential Politics, 2012 U.S. Senate Race, Stupid Republicans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Unemployment “Insurance” Needs To Be Reformed

By Art Gallagher

Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce raised an important issue this week—the insolvency of the Unemployment Trust Fund which is in debt to the federal government for almost $2 billion–and then promptly torpedoed his message with a poor choice of words when he called those collecting “those people.”

Now the story in the media has become DeCroce’s insensitivity, his apology, the six figures he and his wife are collecting from their state jobs and their pensions.   My friend Bob Ingle points out that DeCroce is taking the heat from his Democratic colleagues by attempting to change the subject to dual office holding.

My experience as beneficiary of unemployment insurance is very limited.  In the late 80’s, the last time the economy was this bad, I lost a high paying job “through no fault of my own.”  I went to the unemployment office, was interviewed and filled out forms.  This was my first, and only to date, experience seeking any government assistance.  I didn’t like it.  Fortunately I was young and single with responsibilities for no one but myself.

Rather than take the handout, even though I had paid into it, I downsized my lifestyle by moving into a smaller apartment and took a low paying job that I was over qualified for.  

I didn’t consider that a major decision at the time, but in retrospect it was a pivotal decision in my life.  I never went back to “the corporate world.”  I was happy and thriving in the “small business world.”  It took a long time to get my income back to the level I enjoyed in “the corporate world.”   When I realized I was tapped out and wasn’t so happy any longer working at the small business I was employed by I found that I couldn’t go back to the corporate world.  I was a “stray cat.” Even if I could have gotten such a job, I would have hated it.  So I started my own small business.

As an employer I became acquainted with the unemployment fund again.  I was paying into it.  For the first 8-10 years of I didn’t even notice it.  Business was great and growing.  I was hiring, rarely firing.  Contributions to the unemployment fund were an insignificant portion of my quarterly payments to the State.

Toward the end of the boom, my most valuable employee informed me she was pregnant.  The news was not as life changing to me as it was to her, yet it was a significant and unexpected development.  She had not had a child in 20 years and was not planning another.  I relied heavily on her.   She knew the administrative aspects of my business better than I did.  I didn’t know them at all!  This major personal development in my trusted employee’s life exposed a major weakness in my business that would require an expensive adjustment.

Assuming the economy would continue to boom and that business would continue to thrive, my plan was for my most valuable employee to spend her pregnancy training her replacement while herself training for the new job that I invented for her to come back to after her pregnancy leave.  It was an expensive plan, but it worked.  The administrative aspects of my business became documented with a manual that my new hire referred to often as she mastered her job. My long term employee spent months answering questions, documenting answers and taking business courses from Brookdale online, preparing for her return.

Given that I was expecting her back, and given that business remained strong, I carried the cost of my long term employee’s health care during her pregnancy leave.  It was a good thing I did, as there were major complications, the baby (who is now a brilliant and delightful 4 year old who is terribly disruptive when she comes to visit the business) needed surgery and a long quarantine period.  The maternity costs and the baby’s early care cost almost $400,000.  The care they received probably wouldn’t have been as good and the taxpayers would have picked up the tab had I not carried the heath care premiums.

But the downside for me was that a 3 month maternity leave turned into an 8 month maternity leave.  When my employee came back to work, she said she could only handle part time.  The truth was she probably wasn’t ready to work, but the pregnancy disability benefits had run out. 

After a couple of months on part time, I told my employee I needed her full time.  She quit.  This gets me back to the Unemployment Trust Fund and its management. 

Unbelievably to me, and over my objections, she was granted unemployment benefits.  Why did I object?  Because I had offered her a full time job, the offer was still on the table, but the folks managing the Unemployment Trust Fund gave her benefits instead.

A quarter, two or three later I noticed that my payment to the State had increased substantially.  Figuring it was a mistake, I asked my bookkeeper for an explanation.  No mistake, my unemployment insurance premiums had skyrocketed due to claims history.  A large portion of the cost was the premium on my own salary.  As the owner of a corporation I couldn’t collect on “insurance” I was paying for.  This would be illegal in the private market.

Now, a few years later with an even higher claims history, my contribution to the Unemployment Trust Fund is 3-4 X higher than the quarterly payroll taxes I pay to the State, though the actual number is a great deal lower.   This cost is a major impediment to me hiring new employees, as it is for hundreds, if not thousands of other small business owners.

There are legal and illegal ways around having to pay high unemployment premiums. The legal way, starting a new company with no history to pay employees is probably the option I’ll follow, if I decide to grow the business again. Employee leasing is also an option.  Both options are unproductive and costly, but probably not as costly as paying 5+% of payroll into the insolvent Unemployment Trust Fund. Closing the existing corporation is not an easy option for me, and many other businesses, as the existing corporation owns assets that could not be transferred without costly legal, accounting and tax consequences.  Small businesses owners are confronted with a choice of having to create complicated and costly corporate structures in order to grow, not to grow, or to cheat.  Many will choose to cheat, which is an impediment to growth in the long run, and costly to the State treasury in the short and long run.

Cheating is a major issue on the beneficiary side of the unemployment equation that no one wants to talk about.  There is no accountability for those receiving unemployment benefits.  There may be no way of knowing how many people are gaming the system, working “off the books” while collecting.  We all know it is happening.

As indelicate as DeCroce’s words were, he point was accurate. We need to give the unemployed more incentives to make the difficult but inevitable lifestyle choice decisions and find ways to survive economically either by accepting jobs they once never would have considered or starting businesses.  We also need to remove the disincentives from businesses who want to employ people but won’t because the risks are too high for the potential returns.

Most importantly and not yet addressed in a major way, we need to bring management and accountability to the administration of the Unemployment Trust Fund.

Posted: December 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »