TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — A record number of New Jersey residents applied for unemployment benefits last week, climbing 32% higher than the week before, the state Labor Department announced Thursday. There were more than 206,000 claims for the week ending March 28, up from 155,000 the previous week, the department said in a statement.

The jump in claims is fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, which so far as resulted in 355 deaths in New Jersey and more than 22,000 positive cases, according to state officials.

The new claims over the past two weeks dwarf the state’s previous record for jobless claims: In 2012 Superstorm Sandy led to a spike of 46,000 claims.


Nearly 156,000 residents are currently collecting unemployment benefits, about 51,000 more than the week before, according to the department.

The U.S. Labor Department says 6.6 million people filed for initial unemployment benefits last week. That’s double the record high of 3.3 million claims from the previous week.

Ten million people have lost their jobs over the past two weeks. Some help is on the way from the government’s $2 trillion economic stimulus package.

A look at other developments:


Gov. Phil Murphy is set to tour a field hospital at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus that was expected to open Thursday.

The hospital is slated to field non-coronavirus cases. It’s one of four field hospitals that are supposed to open in New Jersey.


Murphy, appearing on CNN late Wednesday, said he thinks rigorous social distancing and the shuttering of many businesses will continue “deep into May.”

The first-term Democrat on March 21 ordered the state’s residents to stay home, after he earlier required the closure of casinos, gyms, theaters and restaurants and bars except for take-out or delivery.

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Also shuttered are the state’s more than 600 school districts. It’s uncertain when they could reopen.


For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)