CAMDEN, NJ — Troy Riggs, a father of six, recently lost his job for a utility tracking company. Soon he would breathe a sigh of relief when a Camden exterminator sought his talents, going as far as the cusp of on-boarding.

The phone rang, he says, until it didn’t.

“Because of the virus I’m just at home. I’d done everything, put everything in place to get hired from the company. Now I've just been waiting for a call back...but nothing,” Riggs told TAPinto Camden. 

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COVID-19 continues to reverberate throughout the New Jersey job market — forcing companies and small business owners to cut back on workforces and ultimately pitting residents into financial corners.

Riggs has tried on numerous occasions to get in touch with his new boss, but on Tuesday — with weeks having elapsed since he’d been given any indication he still had a job — he says he will likely seek an alternative.

“Not having steady income, being able to pay bills is making a hard situation even more difficult. A lot of people are going into debt because things keep getting pushed further and further along,” Riggs said. “I’m highly qualified, it’s just a matter of finding something...to support myself, my kids, and make it through.”

Many other Garden State denizens are in the same boat as Riggs — either having lost jobs or in limbo because companies are still scrambling to figure out next steps. 

So much in fact, that last week New Jersey’s online system for filing unemployment claims crashed, as 15,000 people logged on with applications. The labor department typically handles 1,500 to 2,300 applications per day.

As an added resource to help anyone that either lost their job due to COVID-19 or can’t find work, the state on Tuesday launched a new online portal.

“My administration’s top priority is helping New Jersey residents and businesses overcome the unprecedented disruptions COVID-19 is causing while staying healthy and safe,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.

“The jobs' portal will give residents who have lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced an opportunity to get back to work while also providing crucial support to the industries that are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic," Murphy added.

Among the job options on the portal's front page: package handler, direct support professional, nursing assistant, security officer, delivery driver and teacher. 

Riggs said he is currently exploring all options, including the state’s job portal — available at jobs.covid19.nj.gov — and more localized resources like Camden Works.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Unemployment Insurance on Tuesday also issued new guidance for any filers negatively impacted by COVID-19 in order to access weekly benefits 

“The state has done an excellent job at compiling a step-by-step resource for folks who are unfamiliar with the application or who are unsure of how to answer because their loss of work is expected to be temporary,” said Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli. “If you are applying for unemployment due to the coronavirus outbreak, please take the time to read through these materials carefully. This will help to ensure that you receive your benefits without delay.”

Before filing, residents are encouraged to read through the full guide available at myunemployment.nj.gov.

For employers seeking to post about openings, an intake tool is available at jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake

“COVID-19 presents a variety of new challenges for businesses throughout the state, but our employers are stepping up, and we're doing everything we can to support their efforts to go above and beyond for our safety,” said New Jersey State Chief Innovation Officer Beth Simone Noveck. “Providing an easily-accessible online resource that will help essential businesses fill staffing shortages benefits everyone and contributes to a safe, effective response to the virus.”

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