Writer: Sara Suarez
2 min read September 2021 — Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that companies will be able to incentivize unemployed New Jerseyans to get back into the workforce by providing a $500 bonus. “This program will help both businesses and their workers, and is yet another step that we have taken to boost our economy,” said Murphy in a statement.
The ‘Return and Earn Incentive Program’ is part of a statewide initiative to alleviate some of the labor shortage challenges that industries across New Jersey are feeling. “We know that returning to work comes with some of its own costs – the costs of transportation or childcare, for example – and this benefit is designed to help workers meet these costs,” Murphy said.
Under the new program run by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, companies will be able to receive up to $10,000 in subsidies to hire and train a ‘Return and Earn’ employee as long as they pay a minimum hourly wage of $15 and have less than 100 employees. The money is designed to reimburse employers for the initial 6 months of hiring, onboarding, and training new employees. The total subsidy available to a business across all new employees caps at $40,000.
“Our administration is committed to assist businesses in hiring workers, while providing benefits to those entering and re-entering the workforce that will set them up for success in their new jobs and their future careers,” said Murphy in regards to his commitment to small businesses. While details have not yet been released, the plan is being funded by $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The plan seeks to boost New Jersey’s return to pre pandemic levels of employment. Since the pandemic started, New Jersey has lost approximately 750,000 jobs which have erased 9 years of economic growth for the state. Although the unemployment rate has been falling for 8 months straightopens PDF file and is now at 7.2%, lower than the initial rate at the beginning of the year of 7.9%, it has only recovered 65% of the total jobs lost during the pandemic.
Although the North Jersey region has generally experienced lower unemployment ratesopens PDF file than South Jersey, in June 2021 Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties reported unemployment rates of 10.3%, 9.8% and 8.5% respectively. Small businesses employ a majority of people in the North Jersey Region which means the region could greatly benefit from this initiative, especially those three counties.