Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Clapp, S.j.a.d.
These are unemployment compensation cases, but we need concern ourselves with only one of them. The claimant in that case was laid off by her employer on November 20, 1953 as a result of an industrial recession in the locality. Prior thereto she had been working for this employer from 5:45 P.M. to 11:45 P.M., less than a full-time shift. After being discharged, she held herself available only for part-time work -- that is, for work commencing not earlier than 4:30 P.M. and lasting not later than 12 midnight.
The Board of Review decided for the claimant, and the employer appeals. The appellant concedes that the question here requires a consideration of only that portion of N.J.S.A. 43:21-20.1 which we have italicized below:
"A claimant who, during a substantial portion of his base year, has been performing less than full-time work and who limits his availability to less than full-time work shall be eligible for benefits only if and when in his benefit year there is good cause for such limitation and there exists in his work locality a sufficient amount of suitable work to justify such limitation , subject to the further condition that such claimant must be available for enough weekly hours, or amount, of such work to be able to earn remuneration equivalent to his weekly benefit amount."
The italicized words must, we apprehend, be read with the general provision of the Unemployment Compensation Law, N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(c), which renders a claimant ineligible for benefits unless he is "available for work." The statement appended to the bill, which became N.J.S.A. 43:21-20.1, indicates the bill was proposed in view of the board's interpretation of this provision.
The concept of availability for work, which by 1950 had given rise to some 400,000 appeals (Altman, Availability for
Work, xiii , 1950), has been built up by the decisions. In Krauss v. A. & M. Karagheusian , 13 N.J. 447, 460 (1953), our Supreme Court had this to say as to the matter:
"* * * the availability test is not met unless there exists a labor market to which he [the claimant] may be attached, that is, it must appear that there is a substantial amount of work in the area for the skills he has to offer. Valenti v. Board of Review [4 N.J. 287], supra. This does not mean that job vacancies must exist. 'It means only that the type of services which an individual is offering is generally performed in the geographical area in which he is offering them.' 55 Yale L.J., p. 124; Valenti v. Board of Review, supra." (Emphasis added.)
In Valenti v. Board of Review , 4 N.J. 287, 292 (1950), supra -- a case holding that garment work at home was "not an accepted mode of service in that community" -- the court said that the Unemployment Compensation Law is designed to provide relief even though "a labor market * * * for the time being offers no employment opportunities." See in accord Reger v. Administrator, Unemployment Comp. Act , 132 Conn. 647, 46 A. 2 d 844, 846 (Sup. Ct. Err. 1946); Ashmore v. Unemployment Compensation Commission , 7 Terry 565, 86 A. 2 d 751, 753 (Del. Super. Ct. 1952); Altman, supra , 110 (1950); Freeman , 55 Yale L.J. 123, 124 (1945); Freeman , 10 Ohio St. L.J. 181, 182 (1949); cf. Glover v. Simmons Co. , 17 N.J. 313, 319 (1955). This design -- to furnish compensation in the event of a business recession -- is a matter that lies at the very heart of the act. The Unemployment Compensation Law was surely not intended to provide benefits only in times of "full employment." Altman , 10.
To determine, then, under N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(c) whether there is a labor market, we must have regard for normal times. In Erie Resistor Corp. v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Rev. , 172 Pa. Super. 430, 94 A. 2 d 367, 370 (Super. Ct. 1953), the court, referring to a labor depression, stressed the point that a labor market exists if normally there are work opportunities. As Altman says (pp. 15, 110), the
criterion must be the number of jobs, filled or unfilled, that normally ...