Unemployment hits hard in Carson City | NevadaAppeal.com

Unemployment hits hard in Carson City

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Rebecca Lee loved working as an administrative assistant at a Carson City auto dealer, but two weeks after losing her job, she might have to look for work in another industry.

“Probably I’d take a job serving coffee at Starbucks,” said Lee, 28.

But even as one of 2,200 people out of work in Carson City, in a state whose unemployment rate is the highest in more than 23 years, she said she’s hopeful she can get a job like the one she held for two years.

“I don’t have the luxury of negativity right now,” she said.

The state’s slow economy has hit Carson City jobs and its 30,000 workers hard. The city’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate is close to the state’s 7.6 rate that has risen steadily over the past six months, and is more than a percent above the national average. Sales have slumped over the past year, with the most recent state report showing sales tax revenue down over 10 percent from a year ago.

Businesses important to the city like auto dealers and casinos have been hit over the past year.

The most recent state reports show auto sales down almost 25 percent compared to a year ago, and gaming in the area down over 20 percent.

Jeff Fast, executive director of the Carson City community service organization Friends in Service Helping (FISH), said requests for help with food, electric bills, job placement and other services are up 20 percent over the last three months.

This could be because people come to Carson City from Reno and other cities hoping that it will be easier to find a job, he said.

When they get here, however, “those people are obviously disappointed,” he said.

Those looking for work at the publicly-supported non-profit training center Job Opportunities in Nevada (JOIN) are willing to take any work they can find, said John Musumeci, a trainer at the center in Carson City.

Most of the 26 people he’s training now are looking for office work, he said, but they will take jobs in fast food if the work is not already taken.

Musumeci said jobs are quickly filled and even people who are qualified can be looked over.

He called it “trickle-down unemployment.”

Lasca Moran said the Carson City convenience store where she worked cut back on the gaming it offered, so she has had to rely on on-call work at a retailer for the past few months.

“I always thought I had a job in gaming,” she said, “but the economy is bad now and people aren’t gambling.”

Moran said she’s hopeful the economy will get better, but Bill Anderson, an economist with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said the root of the slow economy in Nevada is “very broad-based.”

Gaming is down, spending is weak and home construction has rapidly slowed over the past few years. Carson City issued 111 permits for new home construction in 2006, but has issued only 12 so far this year.

“In this downturn, just about every sector of the economy has been impacted,” Anderson said. “It is difficult, in all honesty, to find many positive points.”

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.