Employment in Carson down, but not bad | NevadaAppeal.com

Employment in Carson down, but not bad

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Despite a bump in unemployment over the past year, workers are more likely to find a job in Carson City than most other places in the country, a state economist says.

The number is probably due to fewer construction jobs, said Jim Shabi, an economist with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

His department released a study Monday that said unemployment in the city went up from 4.5 percent in May 2006 to 4.8 percent in May 2007. The margin of error of 0.5 percent.

“If you took one individual coming into this state and compared (the situation with what would happen in) Michigan or some state back east, it would be easier to find a job here in general,” Shabi said. “There’s more people coming in on a percentage basis and there’s more competition for jobs.”

Shabi said small monthly fluctuations statistics usually aren’t notable, but the unemployment numbers have slowly risen over the last year and follow the pattern of the rest of the state, which also has a higher percentage of unemployed workers compared to a year ago.

The city and state have dynamic economies, he said, so a worker might have difficulty finding a job initially.

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Shabi added that unless the city had something happen like a major business close, experts probably would not be able to explain exactly why unemployment fluctuated from one month to another.

The unemployment rate has risen steadily throughout the year, though.

“Four point eight is not a horrible number,” he said, “but it’s not as good a number as we had.”

Rick DeMar, CEO of the Builders Association of Western Nevada, called the loss in construction jobs “noticeable.”

The city, he said, “is not impervious to what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

While builders aren’t doing as many large projects, he said they are doing a lot of improvements and additions to existing buildings. This is what happens to a city that’s maturing, he said.

Marilyn Koschella, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors, said she’s had a small drop in membership but “nothing drastic.”

Realtors are still busy selling and now they have a big market of properties to choose from, she said. This is better than a few years ago when the competition was “just out of hand.”

Koschella added that Carson City is insulated from some trends because it is an area where people want to move.

Dr. Tom Harris, director of University Center For Economic Development in Reno, said people should watch trends in statistics more closely than they watch monthly fluctuations – especially if those trends are in construction.

The industry is the “bellwether barometer of what the local economy is doing,” he said.

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