This story was written and produced by NJ Spotlight. It is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to Covid-19 coverage. To read more, visit njspotlight.com.
Losing your job — even temporarily — is very stressful. And in the midst of the current health care crisis, far too many New Jerseyans are also feeling job and financial stress. A record number of people have filed for unemployment claims as Covid-19 has ravaged the economy.
Efforts to help came quickly from state leaders. And days after businesses began closing, the Murphy administration launched a new Covid-19 jobs portal.
New Jersey’s Chief Innovation Officer Beth Novack says the site is bare-bones and a work in progress and the idea was just to get it up ASAP.
“We’re working hard to improve it, to make it more searchable, more sortable and make it more user-friendly to people. But in the meantime, we were the first state to get something up and have something available,” she said.
The website came together within 72 hours, thanks to the combined efforts of the Office of Innovation, the state Labor Department and New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority.
There are about 44,000 job listings on the website. It’s an easy lift for companies to post jobs, only having to fill out a short form on the website. So far, 500 companies are currently participating.
State Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo says the jobs run the gamut.
“We have employers on there who are big and large who have locations and jobs available across the state. Some are regional. We have some of the biggest names in health care down to Wawa, they are all there hiring folks in New Jersey,” he said.
New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan says that’s welcome news in the midst of the economic downturn.
“There’s tons and tons of bad news, way too much bad news on the economy right now in terms of unemployment, and layoffs and the businesses that are closed. But there’s a surprising amount of companies that are critical to the recovery that need workers. It’s an opportunity to solve short-term challenges,” Sullivan said.
Over 340,000 residents have been on the website since it launched on March 21. But it’s not a cure-all for all New Jerseyans looking for work. There are far more job seekers than jobs available. The hope is, of course, that companies which laid off workers will call them back soon after this crisis has passed.