LAS VEGAS (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Nevada’s falling jobless rate isn’t good news for everybody.

Officials announced Monday that the unemployment rate is low enough that Nevada is no longer eligible to pay State Extended Benefits, which assist 5,500 Nevadans who have exhausted other jobless benefits.

“This exceptionally severe recession left many people unemployed for long periods of time,” said Renee Olson, who directs Nevada’s employment security division. “The SEB program assisted them while they continued to search for their next job, and we understand that this is unfortunate news for those who depend on these benefits.”

While Nevada’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the nation at 11.6 percent, federal officials have determined it’s low enough that the state isn’t eligible for the extended program.

To be eligible, a state’s three-month average unemployment rate must be at least 10 percent higher than the corresponding months in any of three prior years.

Under that formula, Nevada’s three-month average unemployment would need to be 12 percent to participate in the program. It’s currently 11.8 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Rhode Island is in second place at 11 percent, and California is in third with 10.8 of its citizens jobless.

The benefits provide up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment checks for people who have maxed out basic benefits. Nevada first became eligible for them in February 2009.

State officials are notifying all extended benefits recipients about the changes, and how they can get additional help finding a job.

“The declining unemployment rate suggests that Nevada’s labor market is on the mend, however, we recognize that it is still a challenge for many to find work,” said employment department director Frank Woodbeck. “We want to assure our citizens we are behind them every step of the way through this difficult time.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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