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State: Washoe job losses in thousands from COVID-19

By John Seelmeyer

Feature Image: Trevor Bexon

Nearly 5,000 people who previously worked in hotels, restaurants and bars filed for unemployment benefits in Washoe County in early April after state-mandate shutdowns to battle the spread of COVID-19.

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation this week released some of the first detailed information about the effects of the shutdown on workers in Washoe County.

In just one week — the week ended April 11 — state labor analysts say 4,850 people employed in the hospitality industry filed jobless claims in Washoe County.  

Retail workers also were hard-hit as non-essential stores shut their doors. About 1,400 retail workers filed claims for unemployment in Washoe County during the first full of April.

But layoffs rippled through the entire economy of Nevada after the shutdown was ordered on March 17.  State employment officials said layoffs were reported by car dealers, commercial banks, engineering companies, airlines, billboard companies and others.

Statewide, women accounted for a majority — 51.7 percent — of the jobless claims in the first week of this month.

About $6.2 million in unemployment claims were paid out to Washoe County workers in March, but state officials expect that number to rise significantly in April. Jobless workers got an average weekly benefit of $369.

Despite the abrupt layoffs across many companies, state employment offices fielded requests from some companies that needed to add staff in a hurry.  Workers to stock grocery shelves or make deliveries have been in particularly high demand.

Jobs at utilities, farms and mines in Nevada so far have been largely spared from COVID-19 impact.

Even before the COVID-19 shutdown, the jobless rate was beginning to rise in the Reno-Sparks area. In March, state analysts said the region’s jobless rate stood at 5.3 percent. That compares with 3.6 percent in the same month a year earlier and 3.2 percent in February.

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