Senator Michael Testa today lambasted New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development after the beleaguered agency issued a self-congratulatory press release boasting of its accomplishments in 2021.
“With statewide unemployment sitting at 6.6 percent, tied with New York and better than only two other states, it is certainly inappropriate timing for a victory lap,” said Testa (R-1). “The department’s embarrassing failures in processing tens of thousands of unemployment claims during the pandemic turned New Jersey into a laughingstock in the eyes of other states, and too many families continue to struggle due to the financial fallout from long-delayed benefit payments.”
Frustrated filers still cannot make in-person appointments to resolve their claims and it is unclear when those meetings might resume.
“It has been nearly two years since the start of this pandemic and the state labor department staff still can’t process unemployment claims in a timely fashion. We have seen delays of six to eight weeks for resolution, at a minimum. Our office alone has dozens of cases which date back six months or more and we have had to escalate them to the Governor’s office itself for attention,” said Testa. “That’s not success; that’s the sound of the band playing on as the Titanic sinks.”
The press release bragged that the state had recovered “approximately 76 percent of jobs lost” in the pandemic.
“That means a quarter of jobs lost – more than 183,000 innocent victims of the virus and the Administration’s heavy-handed restrictions – remained out of work through the holiday season and are still looking for jobs,” Testa noted. “Throughout the pandemic, it was obvious the only jobs the labor department leadership was concerned about were their own.
“Not only is celebrating their ineptness silly and tasteless, but it is also an insult to New Jersey families and residents who have suffered dearly because of the department’s incompetency.”