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TRENTON, N.J. — Unemployed New Jersey residents could earn a $500 bonus to return to the workforce as part of a new program announced by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday.

The “Return and Earn” initiative will offer the one-time bonus to folks who secure a job through the program, including positions that require on-the-job training.

Murphy said Return and Earn aims to get more New Jersey residents back to work while also benefiting smaller businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

“Throughout this pandemic, I have heard much about the issues facing small businesses and the dedicated, hard-working men and women who enable their success,” Murphy said. “Our administration is committed to assist businesses in hiring workers, while providing benefits to those entering and re-entering the workforce that will set them up for success in their new jobs and their future careers. This program will help both businesses and their workers, and is yet another step that we have taken to boost our economy.” 

Business owners will be able to sign up to join the initiative, but the positions they fill must pay at least $15 per hour, according to Murphy’s office. 

Business owners can fill out an online form to express interest in the program. Further information about the application process will be provided as it becomes available.

The program will also offer one-on-one virtual career services. Job seekers can sign up using an online form.

Business owners who participate in Return and Earn will be eligible for wage reimbursement for 50% of the wages paid during the contracted employer-provided training period. The subsidy lasts for up to six months, with a cap of $10,000 per employee and a total cap of $40,000 for multiple employees.

The Return and Earn program is funded by $10 million earmarked from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.