The number of new unemployment claims is rising again in New Jersey and now exceeds 1 million since the pandemic began, according to the weekly report from the labor department out this morning.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development says 88,326 new claims were filed in the week ending May 2. That's up from around 72,000 a week earlier and brings the seven-week total in the state to 1,018,755 -- more than had been filed in the entire two years before that combined.

“As we pass the milestone of 1 million claims filed – a number so staggering, we never thought we would come close to reaching it in such a compressed period of time – I'm incredibly proud of the tireless work of our staff to get nearly $2 billion into the bank accounts of so many New Jersey workers, to support their families,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo, who is scheduled to join Gov. Phil Murphy at today's daily coronavirus briefing.

Some people who are out of work continue to express frustration that they still aren't receiving benefits or able to contact a labor department claims agent to address their issue. The state has issued how-to guides to direct people how to answer unemployment claims system questions to get their benefits quicker.

In seven weeks, New Jersey has paid out $898 million in benefits from its unemployment fund. Over the last four weeks, it has also distributed $989 million in federal supplemental payments of $600 a week.

New Jersey was one of just six states in which new jobless claims increased from a week earlier.

Nationally, another 3.2 million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits. Close to 33.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March.

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