N.J. Jobless to Clean Up Damaged Parks
At least 1,000 unemployed New Jerseyans will be put to work on post-Hurricane Sandy cleanup jobs courtesy of a $15.6 million federal grant program, New Jersey officials announced.
The National Emergency Grant is fueling the state’s push to hire temporary workers to sweep up streets and public properties in 16 hurricane-battered counties. Already, 700 people have been hired through the program, including 33 who are cleaning up state parks with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.
Their jobs include clearing debris, repairing walkways, restoring dunes and removing trees that block trails, officials said.
“It makes us feel so good to get these people back to work,” state Labor Commissioner Harold Wirths said at a press conference on Monday (March 18) at Liberty State Park, which sustained serious damage during Sandy. The state labor department obtained the grant.
The DEP is placing workers at its two busiest parks, Liberty State Park in Jersey City and Island Beach State Park in Ocean County, as well as Cheesequake, Allaire, Hacklebarney and Washington Crossing state parks. They will also be employees at Round Valley and Spruce Run recreation areas.
Employees hired through the program are expected to work for about six months, and some could earn up to $12,000. Applications are still being processed, and state officials hope to fill 1,000 positions with various state agencies in the coming weeks.
Afterward, state officials plan to ask for more funds to hire additional people.
“I’m optimistic that if we need additional funding, we’ll get additional funding,” state parks director Mark Texel said.
New Jersey has an unemployment rate of 9.5%, labor department spokesman Brian Murray said. That’s higher than the nation’s unemployment rate, which was 7.9%.
Anyone interested in applying for employment should visit a local One-Stop Career Center. Locations for the centers can be found on the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.