Nevada unemployment back up to 24.9%; gig worker claims jump

Fri, Jul 31, 2020 (3:58 p.m.)

Nevada officials said Friday that unemployment statewide has risen again to 24.9%, with a wave of more than 18,000 people filing initial claims for benefits last week during an ongoing economic slump following mid-March coronavirus closures.

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported that the week ending July 25 was the fifth in a row of increases in regular initial unemployment benefit claims, up 18% from the previous week, and the second highest weekly total in state history.

The total number of filings for first-time benefits is approaching 600,000 since the business closures began.

Nevada set a record jobless rate in April of 30.1%. The figure was at 24.9% on May 23.

The troubled Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed, contract and gig workers logged more than 34,000 initial claims last week, up 74.2% from the week before, according to the department’s weekly report.

The department said it has received more than 366,600 of those claims since Congress created the program in late March as part of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package. Those claims are counted separately from regular unemployment claims.

The department is under a court order to begin paying those pandemic relief benefits to out-of-work gig and independent workers who haven’t completely stopped working and were cut off from receiving payments. An attorney who sued the state estimates that nearly 190,000 Nevada residents are affected.

State health officials reported Friday that the number of people confirmed to have tested positive for the COVID-19 illness statewide surpassed 48,000. The Department of Health and Human Services logged 29 new deaths since Thursday, bringing that total to at least 830.

Caleb Cage, state coronavirus response chief, said data show the rates of new cases and hospitalizations was slowing.

For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can face severe illness including pneumonia and death. The vast majority recover.

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