TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is extending unemployment benefits by 20 weeks, the state Labor Department said Wednesday. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has reached record levels during the COVID-19 outbreak, with roughly 1.3 million workers seeking benefits.

The extension would kick in after 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits run out, as well as 13 weeks of federal help.

The state is able to extend benefits because it reached federal benchmarks, the Labor Department said.

The 20-week extension of benefits is triggered during “high unemployment periods,” according to the department’s website. Those are defined as periods when the unemployment rate for the most recent three months reaches 8%, among other factors. The state’s unemployment rate is 15.2% in May.

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The cost of the extended benefits is split evenly between the state unemployment trust fund and the federal government, the department said.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday also reported there were about 400 more positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 172,000.

There were an additional 45 deaths reported overnight, putting the total of confirmed deaths from the virus at 13,224. There were 1,854 suspected deaths from the virus, the governor reported.

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