Sisolak: Record April unemployment of 28.2% is ‘difficult to comprehend’

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John Locher / AP

People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation and its partner organizations, like the One-Stop Career Center, have seen an increase in traffic due to the coronavirus.

Published Fri, May 22, 2020 (9:59 a.m.)

Updated Fri, May 22, 2020 (11:07 a.m.)

Nevada’s unemployment rate hit a record 28.2% in April, the first full month of mandated coronavirus business shutdowns, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Nevada's jobless rate was the worst in the country, DETR chief economist David Schmidt said. The agency has paid out more than $1.6 billion in unemployment benefits in the past two months, he said.

"Nevada is facing record high unemployment and the sheer numbers are difficult to comprehend,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement.

The number of jobs in the food and hospitality industry was down 41% compared to April 2019, Schmidt said.

Sisolak ordered casinos and other nonessential businesses statewide closed in mid-March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Some businesses were allowed to start reopening on May 9 under strict social distancing guidelines, but casinos remain closed.

"Nevada is working diligently to get people back to work as fast as possible, in a safe and responsible manner,” Sisolak said.

Schmidt called the April unemployment numbers "sobering" and said there was “no precedent for data like this, neither the magnitude of the shift nor the speed with which it has happened.”

More than 59,000 people have also signed up for a new program to provide assistance to gig workers and others who do not qualify for standard unemployment benefits, officials said.

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