Nearly 350,000 People in Nevada Have Filed for Unemployment, the Most in the State's History

Around 350,000 Nevada residents have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, doubling jobless numbers seen during the Great Recession and setting an all-time state record.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered in downtown Las Vegas over the last week to demand that Governor Steve Sisolak's stay-at-home order be pulled back to allow small businesses to reopen. Mayor Carolyn Goodman was widely derided last week after telling CNN she wants the city's countless restaurants and casinos to reopen, which prompted Sisolak to reply that the state "clearly was not ready to open." Hundreds of thousands of working-class and low-income Nevada residents are now entering their fifth week without jobs.

Applied Analysis, an economic research firm based in Las Vegas, places the number of jobless Las Vegas residents around 25 percent, The New York Times reported Sunday. About 350,000 Nevada workers have filed for unemployment claims, crippling the government's ability to keep up and making it the highest number of jobless residents since Nevada became an official state in 1864.

"From an analytical standpoint, this is unprecedented," said Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with the firm, in an interview with the Times published Sunday. "We have no frame of reference for what we are seeing."

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, around 4,427,000 initial unemployment claims were made in the week ending on April 18. The week before, 5,237,000 claims for unemployment were filed across the country. As the DOL noted in its weekly unemployment report released April 23, "this marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted data series."

Coronavirus stay-at-home orders have disproportionately hurt low-income and minority communities, with only 23 percent of low-income Americans reporting that they have enough emergency funds to last them up to three months, according to the Pew Research Center. And a slight majority of low-income Americans, 52 percent, say they or someone in their household has either lost their job or been temporarily furloughed in the past five weeks.

By the end of March, around 417,000 jobs tied to restaurants and bars had been cut across the United States, according to the Department of Labor statistics.

The state of Nevada offers 26 weeks of unemployment insurance which pays out a maximum of $469 each week, which according to the Times, "falls in the middle of the pack nationally" in terms of amount. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation told the newspaper that the deluge of claims from the more than 350,000 newly jobless residents is "an unprecedented volume."

A spokeswoman for the state government agency noted that in just one day at the end of March they received more than 28,000 phone calls. "We've never experienced this in the state's history," she said.

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Around 350,000 Nevada residents have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, doubling jobless numbers seen during the Great Recession and setting an all-time state record. ETHAN MILLER / Staff/Getty Images
Nearly 350,000 People in Nevada Have Filed for Unemployment, the Most in the State's History | News