NJ lawmakers want to force Murphy administration to open unemployment offices
Lawmakers will be introducing legislation to force the Murphy administration to open the Department of Labor's One-Stop Career Center offices as soon as March 1 to resolve outstanding unemployment claims.
The move comes after New Jersey 101.5 news reports this week about how thousands of state residents are still in limbo, unable to resolve their claims and get help in person.
State Sen. Michael Testa and Assemblymen Antwan McClellen and Erik Simonsen, all Republicans representing South Jersey's 1st Legislative District, released a statement Friday afternoon saying unemployment offices and One-Stops have been closed for more than 700 days.
“The constant failures have left many filers waiting months to receive any benefits while Labor Department employees are working from home, still receiving a check," they said.
The lawmakers said the legislation would require the Department of Labor to reopen their facilities for in-person appointments with “long-suffering constituents who cannot access their unemployment benefits via the NJDOL’s failing system or face financial consequences for the failure to serve the people of New Jersey.”
What the financial consequences would be are not spelled out. The lawmakers will unveil their plan on Tuesday.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo explained to New Jersey 101.5 earlier in the week that what used to be handled by unemployment offices can be done online or by phone.
“There have not been quote-unquote unemployment offices since the early 2000s, and over time there’s been a diminution of those even in-person services at the One-Stops because it became clearer and clearer folks are moving to be more on the phone and to more online," he said.
The in-person offices, which are now called One-Stop Centers, One-Stop Centers, offer services that include resume writing, developing job leads, interview coaching and referrals to training classes.