Nevada to modernize unemployment system, is DETR ready for a potential recession?

Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) logo.
Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) logo.(DETR)
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 3:04 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KOLO) - The State of Nevada will be modernizing its unemployment insurance system.

The new modernization efforts will improve the user interface of the website with the hopes of making filing easier.

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation’s (DETR) new system will collect unemployment taxes, pay out benefits to eligible claimants, and handle appeals.

$72 million in ARPA grants have been set aside for the project.

“The UI Modernization project kicking off soon is going to be a huge leap forward. This will make it significantly easier for eligible Nevadans to get paid the benefits they need. It will be a boost for businesses to track payments and claims. And it will make this work easier for staff,” said DETR Director, Elisa Cafferata.

These efforts come after the challenges, the agency experienced during the unemployment crisis of 2020.

The new system will be designed to handle tough economic times and implement new benefit programs quickly.

“We’re designing it to scale up and down very quickly because Nevada is always very hard hit in economic disruptions,” said Cafferata.

In April of this year, DETR had a backlog of 30,000 unemployment claims and they’re still catching up.

With reports of a potential recession next year, KOLO8 News Now asked the agency if they are prepared. Like all other businesses DETR is having trouble filling vacancies but Cafferata said, “we’re in a very solid position of the things that slowed us down was the number of fraudulent applications.”

According to the director, they have made improvements to better prevent and detect fraud.

Elliot Parker, Professor and Chair of Economics at UNR says there is a nontrivial chance of a recession but it is far from a certainty. However, DETR desperately needs a better system.

“Whatever happens, it will not come anywhere near to 2020. The Fed’s tightening of the money supply is leading to rising interest rates that are likely to cause higher unemployment rates for construction workers and maybe even real estate agents, but it is not clear whether those effects will significantly spill over to other sectors besides housing,” said Parker. “By all appearances, Christmas spending is going strong.”

The project is estimated to take four years to fully complete, but changes will start rolling out as they’re finished and tested.

If you get laid off, Cafferata recommends the following:

“The first major thing that we’re seeing is, if you get separation pay like two weeks of vacation, you should just take that time as though you were working and then apply for benefits after you have exhausted those weeks. Then you don’t have to report them to us and you don’t need to go to adjudication and that’s the place where is taking us the most time right now.”

She adds that as a requirement for unemployment, people need to be able and available to work and look for work.