The Labor Department announced Friday the release of nearly $207 million in unemployment insurance (UI) modernization incentive funds to the state of New Jersey.

According to the department, New Jersey qualified for the funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by making state unemployment benefits available to part time workers, extending benefits for UI beneficiaries in training and allowing workers to use their more recent earnings to qualify for benefits.

The New Jersey Labor Department can use the funds to pay unemployment benefits or, if appropriated by the legislature, for administering its unemployment insurance program or delivering employment services.

New Jersey's UI program has been updated to better meet the needs of the 21st century labor force, said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

The modernization provisions in New Jersey's UI program help unemployed workers who have entered the workforce recently, work part time or need training to get a new job receive benefits they deserve.

The Recovery Act made a total of $7 billion available in UI modernization incentive payments to states that include certain eligibility provisions in their UI programs.

Each state can qualify for a share of those funds by showing that its law includes those provisions. New Jersey is the first state to be certified for its share by the Labor Department.

During these difficult economic times, New Jersey has been committed to helping our unemployed citizens get back on their feet again, said New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.

Because of the state's progressive and innovative UI program, and making the right decisions at the right time, New Jersey is the first state to qualify for its entire UI modernization incentive funding.

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