700 in N.J. hired to work on Sandy cleanup, thanks to U.S. grant

After months of unemployment, about 700 New Jersey residents are working again. They’re now in temporary jobs helping with the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy.

A $15 million emergency grant from the federal government is funding the program that pays the workers to remove debris, rebuild dunes, and get parks back in shape, said state Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths.

“It’s people that really were champing at the bit to get back to work in all walks of life from I-T workers to carpenters to every job imaginable,” he said Monday. “They’re so grateful that they have jobs, and I’m hoping some of those jobs will lead to permanent jobs. Some of the towns have expressed possible interest in bringing these folks on afterwards, picking some of the hardest workers.”

The workers are getting about $12,000 spread over six months. The towns and counties where they’re employed are reimbursed $4,000 for fringe benefits.

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Wirths anticipates the program will be expanded to about a thousand jobs and hopes the state can get additional funding from the federal government to extend it.

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