Initial claims for PUA jump 635%, raises red flag for DETR


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Claims filed for unemployment benefits were up significantly across all benefit programs, especially when it came to initial claims filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, which experienced a nearly 635% increase.

According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation’s weekly report, 61,290 initial PUA claims were filed for the week ending Dec. 5 which is an increase of nearly 53,000 from the previous week. The jump in claims has raised a red flag and DETR is investigating.

“This marked increase is questionable given the underlying economic conditions,” the news release said.

PUA provides benefits for the self-employed, 1099 contract workers and gig workers and has experienced issues with fraudulent claims.

Initial claims for regular unemployment benefits were also up. There were 8,783 claims filed which is a 36% increase from the previous week, possibly signaling more people have lost jobs. This is only the second increase since Oct. 24. In addition, continued claims saw an increase of nearly 2%. That’s the first increase in 16 weeks.

The programs that pay additional weeks to those who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits continue to see an increase in claims. Nevada’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, which provides an additional 13 weeks, had an additional 2,318 claims filed, bringing the total for the week of Dec. 5 to 98,178. And Nevada’s Extended Benefit, or SEB, which provides up to an additional 20 weeks of benefits who have exhausted regular and PEUC benefits had nearly 2,000 more claims bringing that total to 16,774.

A total of 783,384 claims have been filed since the beginning of 2020 for regular unemployment benefits, 761,732 of those claims are since March 14.

According to DETR, Nevada’s extended unemployment rate also went up to 14.4% which includes claimants in the regular unemployment program as well the benefit extension programs.

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