State sales tax numbers worsen; Carson hard hit

The economic slump for Nevada, and Carson City, worsened in January as taxable sales fell 4.9 percent statewide below January 2007. The capital city was hit hard with a 17.9 percent drop in taxable sales to $64.9 million. Douglas followed with a 12.6 percent drop to $48.6 million.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said Nevada was experiencing the same challenges faced by most states.

"Clearly the drop in consumer spending is having an adverse effect as well as the nationwide housing problem, which is particularly acute in Nevada," he said in a statement.

The total $3.52 billion in sales brings the state to an overall 1.8 percent decrease for the first seven months of the fiscal year. That puts the sales tax 5.7 percent, or $61 million, below the amount forecast for this fiscal year. The numbers clearly showed the economic slump is now working its way through all parts of the economy. Food and drinking places, motor vehicle sales, furniture stores and building materials sales have all been down for most of the fiscal year.

But January was the first negative month for clothing and accessories stores. Accommodations, which includes hotel and motel rooms, were also down for the first time in January.

Altogether, 10 of Nevada's 17 counties were down from a year ago - including Washoe, Clark, Douglas and Carson City. Washoe was off 7.2 percent compared to a year ago and Clark was down 4.2 percent.

At the same time, Nevada's unemployment rate actually went down in the state's three metropolitan areas during February.

It fell three-tenths of a percent in both the Clark County and Reno-Sparks reporting areas and six-tenths in Carson City.

Even so, Bill Anderson of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said Clark County's 5.4 percent, Reno's 6.3 and Carson's 6.9 percent are all more than a percent higher than they were in February 2007. The state is more than a percent higher than the nation as a whole as well.

Anderson said most of the gain over January was due to schools and colleges coming off winter break and that employment growth in the state remained weak.

Anderson said in the year since February 2007, the state has added a net of only 1,300 jobs - an increase of just one-tenth of a percent, which is far lower than the 4-5 percent annual increases the state has become accustomed to over the past decade.

The boom is in Nevada's mining industry which, with gold selling at more than $900 an ounce, has added hundreds of jobs. Retail trade grew by 4,800 jobs and health care businesses added 3,000 jobs.

But he said those increases were offset by the 9,000 jobs lost in the construction industry and 3,000 in the casino industry over the past 12 months.

Because of the mining boom, Elko reported the lowest unemployment rate - just 4.4 percent.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.

By the numbers

County Taxable Sales Change from 1/07

Statewide $3.52 billion -4.9%

Carson City $64.87 million -17.9%

Churchill $23.77 million -22.5%

Douglas $48.57 million -12.6%

Lyon $26.2 million 4.7%

Storey $5.8 million -57.9%

Washoe $472.8 million -7.2%

Clark County $2.67 billion -4.2%


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