Nevada unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent

Nevada’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in February, the lowest it has been since October 2008.

That is the seasonally adjusted rate, which takes into account recurring annual factors such as the holiday season and summer vacation for students. The unadjusted, or raw, rate for February was 8.7 percent, but that, too, is the lowest in some five years.

Carson City didn’t fare as well as the state as a whole. The rate in the capital was 9.9 percent in part because of Carson’s disproportionate dependence on public-sector jobs, which aren’t recovering as rapidly as those in some business and industry sectors.

Nonetheless, Carson’s rate was down four-tenths from January, with nearly 2,680 looking for work in a labor force of 26,980.

Reno-Sparks reported a decrease of three-tenths to 8.8 percent and Las Vegas the same percentage change to 8.6 percent. Some 19,860 are jobless in Washoe County. The majority of those seeking work, 85,630, are in the Las Vegas area.

According to Bill Anderson, economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, there are 116,600 jobless in the state.

The jobless rate for men dipped lower than that for women in January for the first time since late in 2008 — 9.45 percent compared with 9.8 percent. The reason more men lost jobs over the course of the recession was the collapse of the construction industry, which employs many more men than women.

By contrast, Anderson said, the health care sector, in which far more women than men are employed, has grown for decades. It even grew during the recession.

A higher percentage of minorities is still looking for work. While the rate for white people was 8.6 percent, the unemployment rate for black people was 15.5 percent and for Hispanics, 10.8 percent.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said that although too many in Nevada remain out of work, the continuing recovery is encouraging, especially the state’s job growth.

According to Anderson, Nevada’s year-over-year job growth of 3.4 percent led the nation and this month, the annualized rate moved up to 3.6 percent.

Another good sign for the economy is the fact that the total labor force increased by some 12,000 from January through February. Although Las Vegas has 72 percent of the state’s population, only half of that increase was down south. Reno-Sparks saw a 4,500 rise in the total labor force and Carson City a 370-person increase. The Elko area saw an increase of 310 in its work force, with similar small increases occurring around the state.

The primary reason for those increases is the fact that the discouraged unemployed who had given up on getting a new job are again seeking work.

Churchill County’s jobless rate was up one-tenth to 8 percent. But the total number of people employed in Churchill actually increased by 230, absorbing most of the roughly 300-person increase in that county’s labor force.

The jobless rate dropped by four-tenths in Douglas County to 9.9 percent, with the increase in the number of job seekers more than offset by the increase in jobs. As a result, the number of people looking for work there was essentially flat at 2,110.

Lyon County still has the state’s highest unemployment rate at 12.8 percent. The improvement in February was just two-tenths with some 2,750 looking for work.


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