Nevada unemployment hits 14 percent, leads nation |

Nevada unemployment hits 14 percent, leads nation

Oskar Garcia
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nevada’s unemployment rate hit 14 percent in May, pushing the Silver State ahead of Michigan to lead the nation in joblessness.

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported Friday that the jump from 13.7 percent in April set a new record for Nevada.

The jobless rate eased a bit in Las Vegas, the report said, dropping to 14.1 percent in May from 14.2 percent in April. The rate dropped in other parts of Nevada as well and was lowest in the Elko area, where mining is strong and the May jobless rate was 8.3 percent.

The county figures are not comparable with the state rate because the state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted based on typical ups and downs in the labor market, said Bill Anderson, chief economist with Nevada’s employment agency.

Anderson said at this time of year, college graduates should be entering the labor force and construction activity should be rising.

“What’s happening this time around is we’re seeing the economy continue to struggle – it’s not picking up as much as it should,” Anderson said. “We’re just not seeing those kinds of positive trends unfold as they have in the past.”

About 10,000 people left Nevada’s labor force from April to May, he said, with workers either leaving the state or giving up on their job hunt here.

Nevada had nearly 1.18 million people employed in May, with a total labor force of 1.37 million and 189,000 people actively seeking jobs without success. In April, 192,000 people were unemployed.

Elected officials, political candidates and their operatives – both Republican and Democrat – seized on the news as they face a November midterm election. The economy is a top issue in the Silver State, where foreclosure and bankruptcy rates also lead the U.S.

Friday’s report said Nevada’s economy has dropped dramatically since December 2007, with the state unemployment rate increasing 8.8 percentage points in that time.

The figures put Nevada 4.3 percentage points above the national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, and 0.4 point above Michigan’s 13.6 percent rate. Nevada was one of six states that saw unemployment increase in May, while the rate fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia, and had no change in seven states.

The 304,600 workers employed in leisure and hospitality, the state’s largest industry, was slightly improved from the 303,300 people working in the sector in April, but far less than the 311,800 jobs there in May 2009. Casino-hotel jobs were essentially unchanged month-to-month with less than 184,000 workers.

The state reported 500 more construction jobs in May compared with April, but the 48,400 people employed in the industry were far less than the 64,900 in the sector a year ago.

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