With no deal, thousands of Nevadans to lose jobless benefits weekly

WASHINGTON — More than 3,800 job-starved Nevadans would lose unemployment aid each week in January if Congress does not extend benefits that will begin to expire the first of the year, according to state numbers. The rolls would continue to shrink through the winter and into the spring if a standoff persists.

Over the past four weeks, an average 84,600 Nevadans have claimed jobless benefits across a series of programs, with payments averaging $304 weekly. The state of Nevada funds the first 26 weeks, while federal extensions provide a tiered safety net for up to 99 weeks.

But an impasse Tuesday in Congress threatens to halt funding for the federal programs on Jan. 1. Normally, the unemployed would advance from tier to tier until they reach the maximum weeks — or find a job.

In January, about 2,800 Nevadans per week would exhaust their federal benefits, a rate that would drop to 2,200 per week in March, according to calculations by the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

An additional 1,000 to 1,500 people who run out of their initial 26 weeks also would be cut off from advancing into the federal programs.

In addition, about 9,000 people who have been out of work the longest, for more than 79 weeks, would be dropped after Jan. 7, a firm cutoff of the most extended benefits.

According to the state agency, 34,000 Nevadans are collecting basic jobless benefits; about 16,000 are in Tier 1, which covers the next 20 weeks; 10,000 are in the 14-week Tier 2; 9,000 are in Tier 3, which is 13 weeks; and 4,000 are in Tier 4, which covers six weeks. About 9,000 are enrolled in extended benefits that cover the final 20 weeks.

Nevada’s unemployment rate fell to
13 percent in November, an improvement from 13.4 percent in October and
14.9 percent from November 2010. Still, the state is expected to continue leading the nation in joblessness.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.

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