Nevada’s 28.2% jobless rate worst in state’s history – also worst in America |

Nevada’s 28.2% jobless rate worst in state’s history – also worst in America

Geoff Dornan

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Photo: Jeff Scheid / The Nevada Independent

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada’s unemployment hit at an all-time record 28.2 percent in April, a mark that’s also highest in the nation, officials announced Friday morning.

The total number of jobs lost through the end of April is 244,800, officials reported, a direct result of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s ordered closure of all “non-essential” businesses in mid-March to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

According to Friday’s figures, Nevada unemployment rate of 28.2 percent is up 21.3 percentage points from March and up 24.2 percentage points when compared to last April.

“Nevada is facing record high unemployment and the sheer numbers are difficult to comprehend. I am so pleased that DETR staff is working so hard to connect Nevadans to their benefits during this time, paying out more than 80 percent of eligible claims week over week,” Sisolak said in a press release announcing the figures. “Nevada is working diligently to get people back to work as fast as possible, in a safe and responsible manner.” 

David Schmidt, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said hardest hit was Nevada’s biggest employer category, the Accommodations and Food Service industry — gaming, tourism, restaurants and bars.

Schmidt said Nevada has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, followed by Michigan, home of the auto industry.

“The numbers in this month’s report, while sobering, do not come as a surprise,” Schmidt said in a Friday statement. “… There is no precedent for data like this, neither the magnitude of the shift nor the speed with which it has happened. Because this is largely driven by policy response designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as businesses in the state are allowed to reopen we should expect to see a corresponding decline in the number of people unemployed as Nevadans return to work.”

He said the unemployment Trust Fund has paid out $1.6 billion in Nevada since the pandemic shutdown.

In addition to the regular unemployment benefits system, DETR Director Heather Korbulic on Friday said the agency is now ramping up the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that is designed to provide cash to those who don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

That includes independent contractors, gig workers and 1099 contract workers.

She said in the first week the PUA system was up, 59,000 Nevadans filed claims, about half of them on the first day the system was available. She said the second phase of that project is the payment system and that initial PUA payments should go out by Wednesday, June 3.

Like regular unemployment insurance beneficiaries, PUA claimants must file weekly to keep the assistance coming. The program is completely funded by the federal government.

Meanwhile, for the third week in a row, regular unemployment initial claims continued to decline. A total of 17,837 new claims were filed in the week ending May 16, 17.6 percent fewer than the week before, officials reported Friday.

Continuing claims, as predicted, increased as they have every week since the economic shutdown, finishing the week at 369,041. That represents an increase of 13.7 percent.

Korbulic said pending claims have also been dramatically reduced in the past couple of weeks from a high of more than 100,000 to just under 47,000.