The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) announced today that unemployment insurance benefit payments reached a record high during the week ending May 9.
Total benefits paid were nearly $104 million, including regular benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments. Last week also saw 24,218 new individuals receive benefit payments.
Benefit Payments The chart below shows new individuals paid over time. Increases can be seen with the start of payments for COVID-19 claims, the implementation of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and the Governor’s April 30 Executive Order. Since May 1, Regular and PUA benefits paid each week can be found here.
There were 6,313 new regular unemployment insurance claims filed during the week ending May 9, 2020. This is a decrease of 0.5 percent from the previous week when 6,350 initial claims were filed. The highest number of new claims filed during the pandemic was 26,539 claims during the week ending April 4. There were 1,363 new PUA claims filed last week. Spreadsheets showing regular and PUA claims data are available here and will be updated every Thursday.
Initial claims are filed by individuals to request a determination of eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. NDOL processes initial unemployment insurance claims and, if an individual meets eligibility criteria, benefits are paid for each week of continued unemployment.
Continued Weeks Claimed
There were 65,191 continued weeks of regular unemployment claimed last week. Continued weeks refer to the individual weeks of unemployment claimed after a person applies for benefits. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the highest number of continued weeks was in the second week of 2010 when there were 26,075 continued weeks claimed. There were 16,389 continued weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimed last week.
Claims by Industry
The highest counts of initial claims were in manufacturing (955), which increased 12.7 percent from the prior week (847). This is the second week in a row manufacturing is the top industry for initial claims since the spike in claims due to COVID-19. Construction saw an increase of 19 percent over the prior week. Most industries had declines in initial claims from the prior week.
Filing A Claim
Any worker in a non-paid status due to COVID-19 may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment claims in Nebraska are filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov. The NEworks mobile app is available to download for free.
The federal CARES Act created a temporary program that offers benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits including the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA). The act also increases the amount an individual on regular unemployment or PUA will receive by $600 for every week an individual is unemployed. All individuals who qualify will receive $600 in additional benefits for each eligible week of unemployment through July 25. Workers who have been affected by the pandemic should file a claim for unemployment. NDOL will automatically review every claim that comes in for eligibility under the CARES Act.
Weekly Claims: After filing a new claim, applicants must certify their eligibility every week that they continue to be unemployed by logging into their NEworks account. These weekly certifications must be completed even while the new claim is still being processed.
Short-Time Compensation: Employers who have Short-Time Compensation plans must file weekly certifications for employees listed on the plan in order for these employees to receive payment. Employees under STC plans should not file weekly claims.
Waivers Extended: The waivers of the requirements to search for work and serve an unpaid waiting week have been extended through August 1. Employer charging for benefits paid due to COVID-19 has also been waived through August 1.
Refusing Work: Employers who suspect a worker is refusing a job in order to continue collecting unemployment benefits may report these workers to [email protected]. Workers with pre-existing conditions should work with their employers before being called back to work.