Nevada unemployment worse than national in May |

Nevada unemployment worse than national in May

Nevada’s unemployment rate was higher in May than the national rate for the first time in five years.

The state’s seasonally adjusted rate hit 4.6 percent in May, one-tenth of a percent higher than the national rate.

Terry Johnson, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said job growth in Nevada, which was 5.2 percent a year ago, is down to just 2.2 percent for the past 12 months, lowest since October 2002.

That, however, is still better than the national average for job growth.

Nevada led the nation in job growth from 2003 to 2005 but now ranks sixth.

“We are definitely experiencing a narrowing of the gap between the state and the rest of the nation in job growth and unemployment,” he said.

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One of the reasons for the rising unemployment in Nevada is the housing industry slump. Over the past three years, employers added some 50,000 construction jobs to the economy. About 6,000 of those jobs have gone away since last summer, a reduction of about 3 percent.

The result is a 25 percent increase in unemployment claims by construction workers.

Johnson said there has been a 58 percent increase in claims by food preparation and service workers in the past year. He said that may be tied to the passage of ballot questions that increased the minimum wage and banned smoking in restaurants.

“It appears there could be a link between the smoking ban and the number of workers at restaurants and bars losing their jobs,” he said.

And he pointed out there has been only one mega-resort to open in the past seven years, Wynn Las Vegas.

He said the good news is there are several major projects on the horizon. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority expects 10,000 more rooms to become available in 2008, 16,000 in 2009 and another 5,000 in 2010 – a total of 40,000 additional rooms.

“New gaming properties will add tens of thousands of workers and growth in tourism will generate new jobs in such industries as slot machine manufacturing, linen services, uniform supply and more,” he said.

The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate is one-half a percent up from May 2006 and two-tenths from April.

The rate in Carson City was even higher at 4.8 percent. But unlike the state as a whole, Carson’s rate is down from April’s 5.1 percent.

The Elko area, where mining is once again booming, turned in the lowest rate in Nevada at just 3.1 percent.

The Reno-Sparks reporting area reported 4.2 percent out of work. While that is a half-percent above a year ago, it is down one-tenth from April.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.

May Unemployment Rates

Reporting area May 2007 May 2006

Las Vegas 4.2% 3.8%

Reno-Sparks 4.2% 3.7%

Carson City 4.8% 4.5%

Elko 3.1% 3.7%

Nevada 4.6% 4.1%

California 5.1% N/A

U.S. 4.5% N/A