TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — It could soon be more difficult for some unemployed to collect jobless benefits in New Jersey.

The state Labor Department has proposed rule changes that would tighten unemployment eligibility for workers who quit or who are fired for misconduct.

The changes create a tiered system for misconduct cases that would prohibit the payment of unemployment benefits or extend the wait period before benefits are paid.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for Friday.

The changes would save the state an estimated $150 million to $175 million a year.

New Jersey’s unemployment insurance fund is $1.7 billion in the red to the federal government.

The unemployment rate is 9.2 percent.

Assembly Republican leader Alex DeCroce told business owners on Tuesday benefits should be reduced as an incentive to get people to find jobs.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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