Weekly Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Reach Record High

Release Date: 3/26/2020

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) announced today that 15,668 new unemployment insurance claims were filed during the week ending March 21, 2020. This is an increase of 1,861 percent from the previous week when 799 initial claims were filed.  A spreadsheet showing claims data is available here and will be updated every Thursday morning.  A table showing industries with claims filed is attached.

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.

Prior to last week, the highest weekly count of initial claims had been 4,003 for the week ending January 9, 2010. Initial claims were elevated beginning in Nebraska from 2008 through 2011 due to the Great Recession. Last week’s 15,668 nearly matched the entire peak month of 16,404 claims filed in December 2009.

“We saw claims in accommodation and food service, healthcare and retail trade,” among other industries,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin.  “Employers and workers continue to face uncertainty due to COVID-19, and I encourage those impacted to continue to apply for benefits at NEworks.nebraska.gov.”

Any workers in a non-paid status due to COVID-19 may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits.  The maximum weekly benefit amount is currently $440 per week. Unemployment claims in Nebraska are filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov.  The NEworks mobile app is available to download for free. From March 22 through May 2, NDOL will waive the requirement to search for work, as well as the requirement to serve an unpaid waiting week once eligibility is determined. Employers whose workers file claims tied to COVID-19 will also not be charged for those benefits. Nebraska’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will instead be used. The Governor’s press release and Executive Order can be viewed here.

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.  Claim and payment status can also be viewed by logging into the NEworks account. It is not necessary to call the Department to retrieve this information. 

In addition to regular unemployment claims, there has been a significant uptick in applications for Short-Time Compensation. The Short-Time Compensation program helps prevent layoffs by allowing employers to uniformly reduce affected employees’ hours by 10 to 60 percent while permitting the employees to receive a prorated unemployment benefit. For more information, see the information on this page: https://dol.nebraska.gov/stc

“Although industries continue to see the downsizing of their labor force due to COVID-19, we are also hearing from employers needing to fill positions in retail, transportation and manufacturing,” said Commissioner Albin.  “I encourage Nebraskans to go Neworks.nebraska.gov to search open positions across the state.”