A New Jersey insurance company is trying to convince a federal judge that it is too costly to provide unemployment insurance to people who lost their jobs in the financial crisis, citing a shortage of workers.
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Nelson ruled Thursday that Cigna Health Insurance Group is not entitled to the benefits of unemployment insurance in New York.
The company, which has been the target of a lawsuit filed by several New York businesses, said in a statement that it will appeal Nelson’s ruling.
The ruling by Nelson comes amid an economic downturn that has strained the state’s economy, leading to layoffs and a surge in unemployment.
Nelson’s decision was a blow to a New Jersey company that has been one of the biggest employers in the state, according to an analysis by the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The state has spent $5.3 billion since the crisis to provide benefits to people whose jobs were lost, according the Legislative Fiscal Board.
More than two-thirds of that money went to New York City workers who lost jobs, according a study by the Legislative Budget and Policy Center.
Cigna, which is based in Camden, New Jersey, is the nation’s largest insurer by enrollment and is in talks with several New Jersey businesses to expand their offerings.
In a filing with the federal judge, Cignas lawyers said the company does not plan to expand benefits beyond its current size in the coming years.
Cignass said it is not clear how much it would be willing to pay for the jobless benefits and the cost of providing the benefits.
In New Jersey last week, Nelson’s office said the state had been able to find “significant” numbers of jobs that were being filled but was facing a shortage in skilled workers to fill those positions.
Nelson did not provide a list of jobs where Cignascans would be hiring.
The company’s case has sparked criticism from business owners and union leaders.
New Jersey Gov.
Chris Christie and other state lawmakers have been outspoken about how the state is spending money in the aftermath of the crisis.
The state has a $4 billion plan to provide jobs to people impacted by the financial downturn.
The New York State Budget and Fiscal Bureau has estimated the total cost of the plan at more than $30 billion, with $7.6 billion in unemployment assistance and $2.5 billion in job creation.
New York’s unemployment rate fell from nearly 8 percent in February to 4.4 percent in October, the lowest rate since 2008.
The unemployment rate in New Hampshire, where unemployment is at 8.1 percent, is 7.9 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.