May unemployment numbers show improvement as reopening begins

As the economy began to reopen in May, 32,700 Nevadans returned to work.

Restaurants and retail stores were allowed to reopen in early May but only at 50 percent capacity in stores or eateries, social distancing, face masks for workers and other controls. Hairdressers and auto dealer showrooms were also permitted to reopen.

While nearly 21,000 of those were in Southern Nevada, Reno added 5,900 to the ranks of the employed. While just 300 more people went to work in Carson City, one of the key reasons was that, with its heavy reliance on public and government jobs, Carson suffered far fewer layoffs and furloughs than most of the state. Three of Carson’s top four employers are government agencies led by the roughly 7,000 state workers.

The fourth is Carson Tahoe Health which was also relatively immune to staff reductions compared with private industry.

Those are seasonally adjusted numbers — the actual change in total employment minus the expected seasonal change in employment.

David Schmidt, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said the leisure and hospitality sectors were hardest hit by the economic shutdown, accounting for the loss of 128,000 jobs in the Las Vegas Metropolitan reporting are and 15,000 in the Reno area.

Leisure/hospitality accounted for 600 lost jobs in the Carson City area.

As of the end of May, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 25.3 percent, down from a hair over 30 percent in April.

In Las Vegas, the rate was still at 29 percent as hotel/casinos had not yet been allowed to reopen. Because of Southern Nevada’s huge dependence on leisure and hospitality — tourism-driven — jobs, that area was clearly the hardest hit part of Nevada.

By comparison, the rate was just 16 percent in the Reno Metro reporting area and 15.6 percent in the capital.

Schmidt said June data will give a better idea as to how well the state is doing as it will include the impacts of the reopenings of bars and casinos among other businesses as well as loosening of some restrictions on restaurants.

Around the rest of the state, Douglas County reported a jobless rate of 14 percent and Lyon 13.6 percent. In Churchill County, the unemployment rate was just 8.3 percent.


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