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Nebraska unemployment program requirements to change Monday

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 8:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Changes in unemployment requirements are expected to stretch an already overworked system in Nebraska.

This time it revolves around those looking for work in order to keep getting a check.

As more and more businesses have been opening up -- fewer people are filing initial claims for unemployment.

That number has stabilized to around 4,500 applications each week. Compare that to the early days of the pandemic when nearly 27,000 people filed in one week.

Tomas Borges is at a breaking point.

“It’s a tremendous struggle, to the point that I’m losing my mind,” Borges said.

Borges was waiting and hoping someone at Heartland Workforce Solutions could help troubleshoot his struggle with the Nebraska Department of Labor.

“I’ve been waiting 12 weeks since I applied for unemployment,” Borges said. Twelve weeks without a single check.

“The holdup seems to be a glitch in the system or the computer,” he said.

Borges’ patience is wearing thin and his bills are piling up.

In the last 15 weeks, more than 150,000 Nebraskans filed for unemployment. Gov. Pete Ricketts called it unprecedented.

For tens of thousands, it’s the first time they’ve ever gone without a job and had to file for unemployment.

There were 14 times more Nebraskans out-of-work in 2020 compared to the same period last year.

Staff at Heartland Workforce Solutions are prepared for another big rush to begin next week -- those needing to apply for jobs to keep their benefits.

“It is a pretty important rule that has changed. Since March, people haven’t had to look for a job while receiving unemployment. As of Monday, they will have to be looking for unemployment,” said Vickie Gregorio with Heartland.

As for Borges, he left feeling better than he arrived. The glitch has apparently been figured out. He’s expecting his first unemployment check to finally arrive in his bank account Friday.

“I believe there are a lot of people out there with the same problem as me,” he said.

Since early March -- the Nebraska Department of Labor says it has paid 85 percent of claims within four weeks.

Since it’s already seeing record numbers, Heartland Workforce Solutions is expecting longer delays next week when those who want to keep getting benefits need to start applying for jobs.

Staff here wants to remind everyone that if you have access to a computer and Wi-Fi, you do not have to come in to complete the online information.

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