Report shows more giving up job search in Nevada
More Nevada workers gave up the job search in February, dropping the state’s unemployment rate to 13.6 percent, down from 14.2 percent the month before, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported Friday.
February marked the second straight month of jobless declines, after Nevada’s rate hit a record 14.9 percent in December. But on the other end of the spectrum, it was also the 25th straight month of double-digit unemployment.
Analysts said the drop is more about people leaving the work force than jobs being created.
“The fall in the state’s rate was again precipitated by a decline in the state’s labor force, as opposed to general economic improvement,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the state agency.
Over the past year, 45,000 workers have left the job market, the report said.
In the Las Vegas area, the state’s population hub and economic engine, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 13.7 percent. In the Reno-Sparks area and Carson City, the rate dipped 0.1 percent to 13.2 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively.
The Elko region’s jobless rate remained unchanged at 7.7 percent.
Nationally, the jobless rate in February was 8.9 percent.
According to the report, 179,000 Nevadans remained unemployed last month.
But Anderson said the rate of job losses continues to ease, with some industries adding jobs.
The leisure and hospitality industry added 1,500 jobs, the largest increase for any industry during the month, and 3,800 more jobs than a year ago.
Nevada’s hard-hit construction industry that imploded with the collapse of the housing market gained 1,000 jobs in February, though the gains are minuscule when compared with the tens of thousands of jobs lost in recent years.
The largest decline was felt in the trade, transportation and utilities industry, which shed 1,300 jobs, the report said, with most of those, 1,200, coming from the retail sector.
Anderson said job market recovery appears to be taking hold earlier in northern Nevada than Las Vegas. He said employment is up 400 jobs in the Reno-Sparks area and 200 jobs in Carson City over the year, while the employment level in Las Vegas remains 5,100 below year ago figures.
For Reno, it’s the first year-over-year increase since August 2007.
Jobs remain a key focus of the 2011 Legislature, and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he won’t raise taxes while the state tries to claw out of the grasp of the Great Recession.
Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said Friday’s jobless report was reason to stand behind the governor’s no tax stance.
“Today’s drop in Nevada unemployment figures should not give anyone a false sense of security,” Roberson said.
He said talk of any tax increases “only causes further uncertainty and a lack of confidence in those employees and job providers who actually pay for our state government and its core, essential services.”
Roberson said raising taxes would “further crush private sector job creation and economic activity.”