Nevada jobless rate down near 3 percent from peak |

Nevada jobless rate down near 3 percent from peak

Geoff Dornan
Nevada Appeal

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada’s unemployment rate was 12.1 percent in May – nearly 3 percent down from its 14.9 percent peak in December.

But the raw rate – not adjusted for seasonal factors – actually increased two tenths compared to April because of factors including students on summer break entering the job market.

Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said the unemployment rate in the Las Vegas area increased for the first time this year. The Reno-Sparks market saw its rate increase a tenth to 11.8 percent in May. In Las Vegas, that leaves 116,300 looking for work and, in Reno-Sparks, 25,200 jobseekers.

Carson City, however, saw a decline in the jobless rate, although just by a tenth to 11.5 percent. In the capital, there are 3,200 jobless.

Churchill County, where unemployment has declined every month this year, the rate fell to single digits in May – 9.8 percent – with 1,280 seeking work.

Douglas County was at 13.3 percent, also a low for this year. Some 2,800 there are looking for a job.

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Lyon County remains the hardest hit reporting area in the state with 15.9 percent unemployment. But that is a significant decrease from January when the rate was 19.2 percent. Lyon reported 3,520 jobless.

Statewide unemployment rates are down significantly from a year ago all across Nevada. A year ago, the statewide rate was 2.5 percent higher at 14.6 percent.

The largest increase compared to April was in the construction industry which saw an increase of 1,900 jobs – mostly in specialty trades working on rural projects – the natural gas pipeline being constructed across the northern part of the state.

The hospitality industry added 900 jobs, helped in part by the re-opening of the Siena Hotel-Casino in Reno.

Those gains were offset by job losses in financial activities (1,100 jobs) and trade, transportation and utilities categories (1,000 jobs).

Anderson said total jobs available through the first five months of this year are essentially the same as the same period of 2010. He said compared to job losses at the height of the recession, that is evidence the labor market has stabilized.

While the number of unemployed Nevadans decreased by 38,900 in May, Anderson said only two out of five workers found a job. The rest dropped out of the labor force.

One trend he described as alarming is the decrease in employment opportunities for young workers coming out of high school and college classes in May.

“Many seasonal job opportunities provided to younger workers have dried up in the recession or are being taken by older, more experienced workers,” Anderson said.

At the height of the boom before the recession, he said more than 35,000 young workers were hired in the spring. Last year that fell to 12,500.

“Given expectations for weak job growth on the whole this summer, competition for traditional summer jobs will be extremely tight,” he said.