Nebraskans file most new weekly unemployment claims since end of April

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, so do the number of people applying for unemployment.
As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, so do the number of people applying for unemployment.(AP)
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 8:44 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Across the United States, the number of initial unemployment claims went down last week. That is not the case for Nebraska. The state saw a 34 percent increase.

The numbers appear to be going in the wrong direction. Last week, 8,211 Nebraskans filed new unemployment claims. That’s the most new claims filed since mid-April. That number is on top of the 54,530 continued claims. But, Labor Commissioner John Albin said one week does not tell the whole story.

Like thousands of people, Miranda McNiel is struggling with both unemployment and the Unemployment Office.

“I started filing the week of April 18th and I’ve been filing every week since,” McNiel said.

McNiel was working in human resources and accounting for a bakery, but now, she said trying to receive her benefits has become like a job.

“Payments come intermittently, some never come,” McNiel said. “I’ve been waiting for the last five weeks to come, and I haven’t gotten anything. It’s hard.”

Many of this week’s new claims came from cashiers, retail and childcare workers. Commissioner Albin said he doesn’t know exactly why these industries are being impacted now, but said he expected a jump in claims at the beginning of July.

“I feel like it’s wise when you’re looking at unemployment numbers to look at trends over several weeks rather than a particular one week,” Albin said. “There are a lot of factors that cause a one week bump up. For example, the manufacturing industry usually closes down around the Fourth of July, so we expected an increase from that. This was a larger increase in claims than we expected, but it wasn’t unexpected.”

This report marks the fourth straight week numbers have risen.

While times are tough, Albin said there are still jobs available.

“We still have like 32,000 jobs out there the last time I checked listed in Nebraska,” Albin said. “It’s kind of a take lemons and make lemonade situation. There are a lot of opportunities to re-skill, up-skill yourself and come out of this in a better place than you started.”

McNiel said she’s been applying for jobs, taking care of kids and spending hours on the phone, still trying to get answers as to why she hasn’t received benefits yet.

The Department of Labor will release unemployment numbers for June on Friday. Commissioner Albin said he knows numbers will fluctuate, but still expects Nebraska to be in the top tier. Right now, the state’s unemployment rate is 5.2 percent, the lowest in the country.

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