Nearly 14,000 people filed for unemployment in New Jersey last week, down 17% and the lowest weekly total for new claims since the COVID-19 outbreak came to the state, the Labor Department said Thursday.
It’s the second week in a row that the number of claims fell compared with the week before. For the week ending Aug. 8, there were 13,822 applications, down from 16,573 the week before. That figure was down 41% over the prior week.
“It’s a relief to see initial unemployment claims decline for two consecutive weeks,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement. “But with hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans still out of work, or being called back only partially, our workforce needs continued, sustained economic relief.”
Nearly 1.5 million people have sought jobless benefits in New Jersey since the first week of March, when the first case of coronavirus was reported in the state.
New Jersey reported 699 new cases overnight, putting the total at nearly 187,000 positive cases of the virus, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday. There were eight new confirmed deaths, putting the toll at 14,054.
Also on Thursday, the state Health Department released a 19-page set of guidelines for how local health departments and schools should monitor and handle a COVID-19 outbreak.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli promised the document would be coming earlier this week. The health department divides the state into six regions and provides a color-coded risk assessment, from low risk indicated by green to very high risk shown by red. Yellow means moderate risk; orange is for high risk.
If a region enters red, for instance, its school district should move to all-remote learning, according to the guidelines.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.