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Nevada unemployment dips below worst rate of Great Recession

Jobs in Nevada increased by 0.5% in August compared to 1.0% nationally according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation’s August 2020 economic report.

While employment in Nevada realized an increase over the month of 6,500 jobs, the state has seen a decrease of 133,600 jobs since August 2019, for an annual growth rate of -9.4%, according to DETR. The total employment level in the state is 1,289,800. The state’s unemployment rate in August was 13.2 percent, up 9.3 percentage points when compared to August 2019.

“I’m encouraged by this month’s numbers and am happy to see that employment has increased and the number of unemployed has decreased in the state,” DETR Director Elisa Cafferata said. “There is more work to do to help Nevadans get back to work, and we’re committed to doing our part.”

DETR’s report also notes that Nevada’s Unemployment Insurance claims decreased by 17,103, or 25.6%, over the month and is up 39,910, or 412%, over the year.

“Nevada added jobs for the fourth straight month in August, though with few changes in the state’s reopening plan the gain was lower than in May, June, and July,” said David Schmidt, chief economist for DETR. “The number of unemployed remains high but continues to improve. The decline in unemployment brings the rate below the peak of last recession, when the unemployment rate hit 13.7% over a decade ago.

“The challenges posed by the pandemic continue to weigh on the labor market, and the response to COVID-19 by businesses and the public continues to evolve. Although the labor market continues to improve, we still have a long road ahead for a full recovery.”

Trade, transportation and utilities added the most jobs (4,500) over the month, while leisure and hospitality (-15.9%) and other services (10.8%) are down the most since the same time last year. The unemployment rate in Nevada was higher than the national rate in August at 13.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis and 13.3% on an unadjusted basis; the national rate was 8.4% adjusted and 8.5% unadjusted.

Lost wages approval

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced in mid-September that Nevada’s application for the Lost Wages Assistance Grant Program has been approved.

Nevada’s request of nearly $224 million, the maximum the state could ask for, will provide claimants who were eligible the first three weeks of August with up to an additional $300 per week in temporary supplemental financial support. LWA payments will be issued to eligible individuals retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1.

Nevada has been approved for three weeks of funds and plans to apply for additional funds to cover up to three more weeks.

In anticipation of an approved application, DETR has been looking at the technical requirements and making plans for implementation.

With the application approved, the state is working on the necessary technology changes to the current system to accommodate the program. DETR estimates it will take four to six weeks to complete system updates before the agency can begin issuing payments to eligible claimants. No action is required from eligible claimants.

“We are pleased that we are able to move forward in providing this additional benefit to eligible Nevadans,” DETR Acting Director Elisa Cafferata said. “The Department is committed to implementing the needed system updates as quickly as possible so Nevadans can receive this additional unemployment compensation.”

Funding for the Lost Wages Assistance grants is being diverted from the Disaster Relief Fund of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Under the terms of program, funding for the grants will terminate when the balance of the DRF reaches $25 billion, or when FEMA expends $44 billion on this program from the DRF, whichever is first.

FEMA continually monitors the DRF balance, and should the DRF reach a level where funds will soon be depleted, FEMA will notify states that the program may soon terminate.

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