N.J. coronavirus update: State will pay $500 to people who return to the workforce

N.J. has launched a new program to incentivize job seekers and employers, in hopes of addressing the labor shortage.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

File photo: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. (Courtesy Gov. Murphy's Office)

New Jersey will pay unemployed residents a bonus when they return to the workforce.

The goal of the Return and Earn program is to help employers fill jobs while assisting unemployed people, state officials said Monday.

Employers may receive up to $10,000 in wage subsidies to hire and train new employees for up to six months. Workers will receive a $500 bonus in their first paycheck, in addition to other incentives that employers may offer.

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Gov. Phil Murphy characterized the program as “a pilot,” and a “a win-win” solution to the labor shortage that has forced some businesses to change hours or close, and impacted services from trash collection to transporting children to school. He said the money, to be doled out by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, is coming from the American Rescue Plan.

“We’re going to put $10 million into it and get it off the ground and see what the uptake is,” Murphy said. “If it is as significant as we anticipate it may be, we’ll find ways to amp that up.”

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Eligible businesses must have 100 or fewer employees, and the positions must pay at least $15 an hour. The wage subsidy will cover half of a new employee’s wages for six months.

“Our hope is that Return and Earn will make it easier and faster for employers to connect with potential employees and to bring them on board,” the governor added.

More details will come from the Labor Department, according to Murphy. Further details of the program can be found at nj.gov/labor/returnandearn.

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