Unemployment drops for first time in a year

The percentage of Nevadans out of work went down in October for the first time since February 2008.

While the seasonally adjusted rate fell three-tenths to 13 percent, the unadjusted rate fell a full percentage point to 12.6 percent.

That translates to 175,300 Nevadans looking for a job instead of 190,700 in September.

Reactions to the decrease, however, were mixed, with Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation saying the state's economic troubles are far from over.

"As we head into the holiday season, this is welcome news," he said. "However, it is not a reason to be overly optimistic."

He said it is a good sign that the economy is beginning to stabilize.

Anderson was optimistic compared to Gov. Jim Gibbons, who said the decrease is "a temporary drop and not a sign that Nevada's economy is turning around."

"The decline in unemployment has not been followed by an increase in the employment base," he said. "Clearly the federal stimulus dollars have been better at retaining existing jobs rather than creating new jobs."

That statement is in sharp contrast to one issued by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who described it as "a positive development and further evidence that Nevada is starting down the economic road to recovery."

Reid pointed to legislation he pushed extending unemployment benefits and the stimulus legislation he said is designed to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

He said the health care bill he introduced this week will help more by lowering health care costs.

Nevada's overall decrease in unemployment came despite an increase of four-tenths nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29 states including California, Florida and New York saw their jobless rate rise in October. But the national rate still is far below that of Nevada - 10.2 percent.

The unadjusted rate fell just about a full percentage point in all three metropolitan reporting areas. In Carson City's case, the rate went from 12.8 percent in September to 11.7 percent in October - leaving about 3,500 out of work.

The Reno area saw its rate fall from 13.1 percent to 12.2 percent and Las Vegas reported 13 percent in October, down from 13.9 percent.

Lyon County remains hardest hit in the state at 15.2 percent for October. But that's better than the 16.4 percent that county reported in September. Similarly, Storey County came in at 12.8 percent compared to 14.7 percent in September.

Churchill County's rate went down from 9.9 percent to 9.3 percent in October while Douglas fell from 12.7 to 11.9 percent during the month.

Statewide, the number of people out of work is being driven by a

27 percent decrease in construction jobs. Construction has lost nearly 31,000 jobs in the past year.

Casino hotels and gaming businesses have cut just less than 16,000 jobs since October 2008 and the leisure and hospitality industry as a whole some 20,000.


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