Douglas jobless rate holds steady
MINDEN, Nev. – While Douglas County employers continue to add jobs at a steady rate, the number of jobless continued to increase, also.
The county’s unemployment rate held steady at 14.1 percent, according to figures releasd this morning by the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
But the number of employed rose by 130 workers in August to a year high of 18,570. The number of jobless workers rose to 3,050, an increase of 10 from July and June’s 3,040.
The county dropped to the fifth highest unemployment rate in the state behind Lyon, Nye, Mineral and Clark counties. Lyon got some company from Nye as the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state. Both counties posted 17.3 percent rates.
“The August job’s report confirms what has been evident since the beginning of summer, that Nevada’s labor market is not improving as well as many would hope,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. “The market continues to experience flat employment readings and an increasing jobless rate. The good news is that dramatic job losses have subsided; unfortunately, it is not enough to consistently bring the unemployment rate down. The poor condition of the construction industry continues to contribute heavily to Nevada’s economic stalemate.”
The ranks of the long-term unemployed in Nevada continue to swell. On an annual basis, the percentage of workers unemployed for over 26 weeks is the largest segment of the unemployed, and continues to grow. In the 12 months ending in August, the number of long term unemployed accounted for 50 percent of all unemployed workers. That is up from 27 percent just two years ago.
“The ramifications of extended joblessness for this segment of the workforce are potentially profound and long lasting,” Anderson said. “When a person is out of work for a long period of time, skills and experience diminish making it more difficult to find employment as time goes on.”
On a positive note, Nevada’s rate of job growth was slightly better than expected, resulting in a seasonally adjusted increase in both July and August, Anderson said. On an unadjusted basis, Nevada employers added 600 jobs in August. Over-the-year, employment is down just 0.1 percent – essentially flat. Employers in the Las Vegas area added 800 jobs over the month, pushing employment into positive territory on an over-the-year basis. In the Reno-Sparks area, employment declined by 100 jobs, while on an over-the-year basis, employment is down 3,300 jobs or -1.7 percent. Carson City’s employment level was unchanged in August, but compared to last year, employment is still down 500 jobs or -1.7 percent.
Difficulties in Nevada’s residential mortgage markets have been well-publicized over the past half-decade. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 8.1 percent of all residential mortgages were past due in the second quarter, after peaking at 10.4 percent in late 2009. In the Silver State, the most current delinquency rate is 10.4 percent, down from a high of 14.9 percent, also in late 2009. In Nevada, the number of residential mortgages entering into the foreclosure process totaled 11,300 in the second quarter, down from a peak of 20,700, but well above pre-recession levels. All told, the total number of residential loans in the foreclosure process is approximately 41,000, down from a peak of 56,000
Construction employment has suffered greatly in such an environment. Since the start of the recession, employment in Nevada is down over 90,000 jobs, based on seasonally adjusted data. Construction employment peaked nearly one year before total employment, in June 2006. Since then, construction employment fell from 146,600 to 54,600. Since peaking in May 2007 at 1,297,400, total employment in Nevada has fallen considerably, and now stands at 1,116,700, a decline of 180,700. Of all the jobs lost in Nevada during the downturn, roughly one of every two was from the construction industry, a disproportionate share considering even at its peak construction employment only made up about 11 percent of total employment.
“Despite some stability in August, the construction industry continues to be a drag on the broader economy, as seen by recent trends in taxable retail sales collections,” Anderson said. “Taxable sales in Nevada recovered in fiscal year 2010, gaining 5.7 percent over the previous year, despite an 18.4 percent decline in construction related sales activities.”
Without the decline in construction related activities, taxable retail sales would have gained an additional 0.5 percent, pushing fiscal year growth to 6.2 percent. In a similar sense, construction employment is affecting the broader labor market in Nevada, too. When construction employment is removed from the broader economy, a more stable picture comes into view, Anderson said.
At the worst of the downturn, in 2009, Nevada lost 9 percent of its employment base. Without the construction losses, the over-the-year loss would have been -7 percent. More recently, construction continues to pull down employment. Through August, total employment is up 0.03 percent on an annual basis using seasonally adjusted data. Without the losses in construction employment, over-the-year growth would be 0.37 percent.