NJ Lawmakers Approve Unemployment Website Upgrade

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s unemployment insurance website may soon be getting an upgrade.

The state Legislature recently passed a measure mandating that the Labor Department rework the site so jobless residents can access claims information anytime.

Currently, claimants can only file for benefits online during normal business hours and only on certain days. The measure’s proponents say that makes no sense, especially with so many people out of work and seeking assistance.

The measure passed the Assembly and Senate without opposition on Jan. 10. It now goes to Gov. Chris Christie for his consideration, but it’s not known if or when he will sign the bill.

Proponents say it would make the claims process more efficient for the state and easier for those seeking to file or modify claims.

“With unemployment still hovering near 10 percent, it’s no wonder the current system is inundated,” said Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, D-Passaic, one of the bill’s primary sponsors.

Pou and other officials say contacting the department by phone is often difficult, with many callers hearing only a recorded message telling them to call back later due to long wait times.

They also note that those seeking to cancel or close their claims must make appointments to speak with a service representative, and those appointments usually can’t be scheduled for several weeks.

“By shifting to a fully available online system we can alleviate a great deal of stress for our out-of-work residents and also help the Labor Department better handle the increased demand for unemployment services,” Pou said.

It’s not yet clear how much the website upgrade would cost. The governor could veto part or all of the bill. He also could send it back to lawmakers with proposed changes.

“The department is working to meet the terms of this bill and is developing an estimate, which will depend ultimately on the bill’s final version, if and when it becomes law,” said Kerri Gatling, a labor department spokeswoman. “The bill has an implementation period of 120 days after becoming law and the department fully expects to meet this timeframe.”

Besides Pou, other primary sponsors in the Assembly were fellow Democrats Wayne DeAngelo of Hamilton, Celeste Riley of Bridgeton, Peter J. Barnes III of Edison and Connie Wagner of Paramus.

In the senate, it was sponsored by Democrats James Beach of Voorhees and Linda Greenstein of Hamilton (Mercer County).

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Jorge Fonseca

    II pay my taxes every week for my cheq. Last 3 weels . i was trying to talk with somebody nobody gave the solution.

  • Dez

    I’m wondering if they’re working on the website right now.. I haven’t been able to file for 2 days and I REFUSE to call and hear the machine tell me to call back later. I hope it’s back up soon!

  • David

    They just changed over to “debit cards” – I would think this would make the funds available as soon as your benefits are claimed, but apparently not the case! Now you just have to wait and guess as to whenever your money is there to use for unimportant items like food and medicine. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they’re really looking out for us like they claim, and this system makes everything run faster and smoother!

  • Lori

    They should be more like PA unemployemnt you can call them 7 days a week and during the week if you cannot talk to them you can leave your SS# and phone number and they will call you back up to 8:45pm if they do not call then they will call you back the next day. They are also much more pleasant and helpful then NJ unemployment workers

  • otto

    This is a GREAT idea. But … PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE organize the information better. It is extremely difficult to navigate the info part of the site to get much needed information on UI benefits. It’s just very poorly organized.

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