N.J. lawmaker apologizes for jabs at the jobless

The ranking Republican in the New Jersey Assembly has apologized for remarks he made about unemployment insurance benefits.Assembly minority leader Alex DeCroce told a business forum New Jersey’s $550 a week unemployment benefits, the top rate, are too generous and should be lowered. He said some people are gaming the system.DeCroce now says he did not mean to offend unemployed residents who have been unable to find a job.Senate President Steve Sweeney, an officer with the ironworkers union, said DeCroce’s comments were an insult.”He’s telling people go find a job in this environment. You can’t be that cruel at this time of the year to tell somebody to just go find a job,” said Sweeney. “My guys would love to have a job today. I have 40 percent unemployment. My guys would love to be working in this weather today so they could provide for their family especially at the holiday season,” he said.Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said DeCroce’s remarks were inappropriate.”It is not people who are sitting on their hands collecting a $550 a week unemployment check. They are people who are pounding the pavement following up on any potential job lead they can.”Sweeney invited DeCroce to the ironworkers’ union hall to meet with unemployed  residents to understand the challenges they face in getting a job.

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