New applications for the pandemic unemployment assistance program rose 635% last week compared to the previous week, the national workforce agency said on Friday, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the increase.
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said 61,290 initial PUA claims were filed for the week ending Dec. 5, up 53,000 from the previous week.
“This marked increase is questionable given the underlying economic conditions,” agency spokeswoman Rosa Mendez said in a statement Friday. The agency said it is investigating the sharp increase in new PUA requests and to see if there are any potential trends.
The PUA program, for the self-employed or independent contractors, provides up to 46 weeks of benefits to eligible filers who are not covered by regular unemployment insurance. More than 719,250 initial PUA requests were filed in Nevada during the week ending December 5.
On Thursday, the agency announced that it will send mass ineligibility notices to more than 167,000 PUA applications. The DETR took similar action in October, sending 217,500 letters of ineligibility to PUA filers.
Initial jobless claims also rose last week. More than 8,700 new unemployment insurance claims were filed for the week ending Dec. 5, up 36%, a sign that more people lost their jobs.
Filers submitting continuing claims for unemployment insurance, which represents the current number of insured unemployed people filing unemployment insurance benefits each week, also increased. More than 85,600 Nevadans filed continuing claims at the same time, an increase of 1,300 claims from the previous week. DETR said it was the “first increase in regular continuing claims since August 8”.