Jobless claims soar across the Philadelphia region

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Jobless claims across the Philadelphia region are soaring.

In Pennsylvania, 1 in 4 workers lost their jobs since the pandemic began. With 96,203 jobless claims, there are now a total of 1.7 million people unemployed.

In New Jersey, 1 in 5 workers lost their jobs, bringing the total to more than 1.1 million.

In Delaware, 6,183 new claims bring the state total to 85,598.

As businesses remain closed and employees wait for the day they can return to work, Trenton, N.J. Resident Lashique McDuffie said she hasn't received unemployment benefits in the six weeks since she lost her job. She is the sole provider to three young children.

RELATED: 3.2 million more people file for unemployment

"It just stresses me out because I dont know what to do, I don't know where to go or who to talk to at this time," said McDuffie.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry announced Thursday that self-employed workers, gig workers, contractors and others not normally eligible for regular unemployment compensation (UC) can file backdated claims in their new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) website.

According to a press release:

The new PUA system, which launched its first phase on April 18, was completed early this morning and is now fully operational. L&I opted to roll out the system in two phases to collect as many applications ahead of time as possible so that payments could be made quickly after the website's completion. To date, more than 174,000 new PUA claims have been filed.

New Jersey already provided benefits to the self employed, gig workers and independent contractors.

Haddonfield, NJ. Symmetrie Hair Designs Salon owner Scott Nicoll said he applied for benefits since he hasn't collected a paycheck since March 19.

"As of now, I'm going to be in the hole probably about $20,000 or more that we'll never recoup, so you can imagine other companies that are not going to see a resurgence right away are going to suffer from this," said Nicoll.

Nicoll added that he received a $1,200 stimulus check last week, but it was addressed to his mother who died two years ago. He said the check even says "deceased" after his mother's name.

"As a person who is going through this, a business owner, I'm pinching every penny and trying to make sure that my salon is able to open up again when we are able to open up," said Nicoll. "And...they're issuing checks to deceased people."

The IRS has provided new guidance on its website that stimulus checks sent to deceased individuals must be returned.


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