Nevada jobless level nears 20%; extended benefits triggered
Unemployment benefits in Nevada are being extended for a second 13 weeks, officials said Friday, as the wave of workers idled by casino and business closures in response to the coronavirus outbreak spiked the state jobless figure to 19.9%.
“Nevada has now met the thresholds required to trigger extended benefits,” the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said in a statement issued a day after the U.S. Department of Labor reported more than 45,000 people in the state filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week.
Extended benefits provide 13 additional weeks of payments to people who exhaust regular state unemployment and pandemic emergency benefits, the statement said.
More than 412,000 Nevadans have filed initial unemployment claims since Jan. 1, and the trigger point for extending benefits was reached when ongoing claims, now 5.8%, topped a 5% mark set by state law.
The number of idled workers filing for benefits since shutdowns began neared 390,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The figure equates to more than one in four of the 1.4 million workers who had jobs in Nevada in February, when the state unemployment figure was a record-low 3.6%.
More than 5,200 Nevadans have tested positive for the COVID-19 illness caused by the coronavirus, and at least 243 have died, state health officials reported Friday.
Almost 44,000 people have been tested statewide and the pace of deaths has slowed, data from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services showed.
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday announced he may allow the reopening in mid-May of many businesses that were closed in mid-March after being deemed non-essential.
But the governor said bars, casinos and shopping malls would likely stay shuttered.
Sisolak said he will move into a first phase of reopening the Nevada economy when the state meets a number of goals, including 14 days of declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Nevada appeared to reach a peak of people testing positive on April 24, Sisolak said, and health officials are watching closely to determine if cases continue to fall.
Most people with the virus experience symptoms such as fever and cough for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Also Friday, the governor signed an emergency order to protect federal stimulus checks from most debt collectors and to freeze wage garnishments. The order does not apply to orders to pay child support, spousal support or restitution to crime victims. It will stay in place until the governor lifts a state of emergency in Nevada.