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December 4, 2021

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Nevada to seek $300 weekly jobless aid, won’t add $100


John Locher / AP

In this March 21, 2020, file photo, a man walks along a usually busy Fremont Street after casinos were ordered to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak in Las Vegas.

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 | 6:30 p.m.

CARSON CITY — Nevada is making plans to funnel $300 a week in federal coronavirus pandemic relief funds to out-of-work state residents, but won’t add $100 from the state, Gov. Steve Sisolak and state unemployment officials announced Tuesday.

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said it will ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add Nevada to the list of states seeking lost wages aid under a program created this month by President Donald Trump.

“Nevada ... anticipates not being able to contribute the additional $100 per week due to budget concerns,” the governor and DETR said in a statement.

The department said qualified applicants probably won’t begin receiving payments until at least four to six weeks after FEMA approves the state request for temporary disaster relief. Payments would be retroactive to Aug. 1, it said.

Kimberly Gaa, an administrator with the state unemployment office, warned lawmakers this month that her department’s antiquated computer system made adjusting benefit payouts difficult.

The state’s regular unemployment trust fund could be depleted as soon as September, Gaa added, forcing the state to borrow to continue to fulfill claims.

Nevada state officials on Tuesday reported 403 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the total to 66,413, and 30 more deaths. That brought the death total to at least 1,230 since the first fatality was reported in the state March 5.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. But older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Nevada’s unemployment system was swamped by applications for benefits after the governor closed casinos and businesses deemed nonessential in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A wave of more than 92,000 people filed initial claims in the week ending March 21. By the week ending Aug. 15, nearly 630,000 idled workers had applied for regular unemployment benefits since closures began, and 410,000 out-of-work gig and contract workers filed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, the jobless office reported.

One in three workers in the Las Vegas metropolitan area reported being out of a job in April, and the state unemployment figure topped 28% in May. The state jobless rate last week was 17.3%.

Only idled workers who receive $100 or more in unemployment insurance benefits, or gig and contract workers receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, will be eligible for the $300 payments. Applicants will have to certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 economic disruptions.

The new Lost Wages Assistance program replaced the recently expired Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which paid an extra $600 per week to unemployment benefits recipients.

Not everyone who has already filed for jobless benefits will be eligible for the lost wages benefit under existing federal guidelines, said Elisa Cafferata, newly named as acting Nevada unemployment office chief.

“We will do everything in our power to effectively implement this new program upon approval of our application,” Cafferata said. “We remain hopeful that Congress and the White House will reach a consensus on a longer-term solution that will assist more Nevadans.”