#58 Shovelbums Guide Part 10: Unemployment

(Brief aside...you may have noted ads on the right side of this page.  I started a Google Adsense account in an attempt to help pay for this site and to make it better.  Squarespace charges for bandwidth limits, which I haven’t hit yet, and hit count limits, which I also haven’t hit yet.  Of course, it would be wonderful to promote archaeology full time but this isn’t going to do it.  A few clicks on the site and telling your friends, however, can make it better.  Thanks and on to the post).

Throughout my career I’ve heard of people working through the season and going on unemployment for the winter.  The smart field tech will have saved enough money to live for three or four months during the off season but sometimes you need that little government bump that you earned anyway.  In twenty years of paying taxes I’ve never collected unemployment.  Since I’m currently out of work, a bit earlier than I thought I would be, I figured I’d get the unemployment ball rolling and report back for those that might be interested.

I’ve always been a bit too lazy to file for unemployment in the past.  I figured that working in several different states throughout the year would just make it way too complicated.  Also, the unemployment procedures are different for every state.  This post will discuss filing for and collecting unemployment in the state of Nevada.

The first thing I did was Googled “nevada unemployment”.  It pretty much brought me right to the page that I needed to use to start a new claim.  There are a lot of pages that try to confuse you and that have way too much information on them.  Once you sort through all of that it’s pretty easy.

http://www.kabobfest.com/2011/04/econ-dogma-3-unemployment-2.htmlThe online filing system asked me a few questions to assess whether I could even file online or if I had to use the phone system.  The question that stopped we was whether I had worked solely in the state of Nevada for the past 18 months.  That is the period they use to assess how much you will qualify for.  I decided to test the system because I had one two-week job in Georgia at the beginning of the 18 month period.  I thought that I could just forget that part.  That was my first mistake.

Since I answered the test questions satisfactorily the website directed me to the online filing system.  I answered a bunch of questions and made it down to my work history.  That’s when I backed out of my plan to forget about the little Georgia job.  Once I admitted that I’d worked in Georgia the system immediately kicked me out and told me to use the phone filing system.  Damn.

The phone system is automated and asks the same questions as the online system.  It never even asked me about the Georgia job because this is when you find out that they are only looking about nine months back.  Nice.  It took about 15 minutes to complete the filing process by phone.  At that point I thought I was done.  The automated system told me that my claim would be evaluated and that I’d be contacted.

The next day I received a call from a person at the unemployment division.  He asked me almost all of the same questions, including the names and addresses of my last employers (during the last 9-12 months).  He was able to instantly pulled my financial data from those employers and determined that I had made about $33K during the last four quarters.  That qualified me for the maximum unemployment benefit of $396 a week for a maximum of 26 weeks (or $10,296).  I was told that there might be federal taxes assessed on this “income” (Nevada doesn’t have a state tax) and I was given the option to hold 10% of the disbursement each week.  I elected to do that because I don’t need the headache of dealing with pulling taxes out of savings in April.

So, now I have to file each week and keep a log of the jobs that I apply for.  They say you should apply to at least 3-4 jobs each week but that it is almost impossible to enforce that if you have a job that doesn’t have many open positions (such as archaeology in the winter).  I could be asked to show my job log at any time.  If I don’t satisfy the unemployment division they could take back all of the money they have given me.

There is one more complication because I’m a veteran.  Veterans are supposed to go to Nevada Job Connect to see if they can assist in the job search.  I don’t know why and they could’t give me a good answer.  Last week I went there for the first time and the representative that I talked to had a contact for a local company and was going to send my information to them.  The only downside to using Nevada Job Connect is that if they refer you to a job and you are offered that job, regardless of the conditions of the job, you have to take it.  If you are offered an interview, you have to take it.  If you don’t do these things they can submit your case for adjudication and you could lose your benefits.

Now, every Sunday I can file for the previous week.  You can file starting at 12:01 am on Saturday night.  The sooner you file the sooner they pay you.  I filed online at about 9 am on Sunday morning and by Monday the money was in my account.  Not a bad turn around.  I said the money was in my account.  That’s not entirely accurate.

The way they pay you is by putting the money into a Wells Fargo savings account accessible with a very restricted debit card.  You get charged for too many withdrawals, too many balance inquiries, for trying to take out money that isn’t there, and for calling customer service.  You can avoid fees by going into the bank, so there’s that at least.  I just took out $340 (increments of twenty) and put it in my checking account.  You can elect to have paper checks sent but for most people there is too much of a lag between filing and receiving the check.

That’s my unemployment experience.  I’m using the money and the time to blog, read, and learn how to program iOS applications.  I’d love to start a company that is completely digital someday but I need the apps first (and a large pile of money).  Baby steps.  Maybe I’ll get the Jeopardy call soon and I can jumpstart this thing!

Good luck during the winter months.  Stay warm, use the time to better yourself and your skill set, and stay active. 


2008  The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (iPad App), Oxford University Press, 2nd ed.   Developed by Handmark, Inc.

Shovel Pit Testing An extensive survey technique to sample the content of topsoil within a defined area by taking a fixed volume of soil (usually a shovelful) out of the ground and sieving/screening it to separate out and quantify the artifact population.  Widely used in the field evaluation of large areas in order to identify buried sites and define their approximate extent.

(My thoughts...There are usually at least two commonly used sizes of shovel test pit (STP).  Some are 30 cm in diameter and some are 50 cm square.  It depends upon the state you are working in.  Unless a sterile soil level has been identified STPs often go as deep as either the water table or the deepest you can reach with a shovel.  Occasionally you will continue with an auger.)