Unemployment rate is lowest in nearly four years

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Nevada's unemployment hit its lowest rate in nearly four years this past December.

The seasonally adjusted rate fell from 10-8 percent to 10.2 percent. The raw rate was even lower at just 9.8 percent.

That comes on the heels of a seven-tenths decrease from October to November.

Nevada still has the highest jobless rate in the nation, a distinction it has held since May 2010. The national jobless rate in December was 7.8 percent.

Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation economist Bill Anderson said all major indicators say Nevada ended 2012 on a strong note.

"Unemployment is down, job readings are up, initial claims for unemployment insurance are trending down," he said.

He said all those things indicate Nevada's economy is "on the mend," albeit slowly.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said December marks four straight months of lower unemployment and a gain of nearly 19,000 jobs statewide.

The Carson City area reported 10.1 percent unemployment with 2,700 jobless out of 27,080 in the work force. That is a decrease of three-tenths from November. For the year, employment was down 800.

The two other urban reporting areas also saw improvement in December. Reno-Sparks reported 9.6 percent unemployment, which translates to 21,300 jobless in a work force of 223,000. That too is three-tenths less than the previous month.

In Las Vegas, the decrease was four-tenths of a percent to 10 percent even with 97,000 looking for work in a labor force of 974,400.

All three urban reporting areas reported about 3 percent lower unemployment than they did in the same month a year earlier.

Douglas County dipped below 11 percent for the first time in well over a year, reporting 2,220 jobless ? a 10.9 percent unemployment rate for the 20,420 work force.

Lyon County continued to have the worst rate in the state and, unlike other reporting areas, finished the year flat at 13.7 percent. About 2,910 of the 21,210 workers there are jobless.

Churchill County also reported a decrease of four-tenths to end the year. There 1,060 are looking for work in a work force of 12,680.

For the year, Anderson said all 17 counties in Nevada saw the jobless rate drop compared with 2011.

In 2012, he said jobs statewide were up 9,300 compared to the prior year, with 11,900 jobs being added in the private sector. Those gains were offset by losses in public employment.

Nevada's construction employment also continues to struggle, though Anderson said the industry ended the year with two consecutive months of seasonally adjusted job gains. Still, the industry has shed about 100,000 jobs since Nevada's boom days before the Great Recession.

Most of the job gains in the past year were in the state's leisure and hospitality sector - Nevada's key economic engine fueled by visitors to Las Vegas. Anderson said jobs in that sector are up 6,100.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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