State’s unemployment at highest rate since ’93 |

State’s unemployment at highest rate since ’93

Nevada’s unemployment rate hit 6.6 percent in July, the highest rate since July 1993 and almost a full percentage point higher than the nation.

There are now 94,900 people unemployed in the state, compared to 67,700 a year ago.

Bill Anderson, economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said seasonal layoffs added to the economic slump to push the number upward. He said the state’s economy is suffering from the nationwide credit crisis, which has been hurting capital investment and interrupting development on the Las Vegas Strip. Specifically, he referred to the indefinite delay of the billion-dollar Echelon Place development that’s being built on the site of the former Stardust hotel.

On the positive side, he said, projects which had financing in place before the credit crisis hit are moving forward. Those include Project CityCenter, the Fontainebleu and the Cosmopolitan, which are on schedule and under construction.

The seasonal layoffs are primarily tied to the end of the school year, resulting in a 6,000 worker drop in government employment. In good times, Anderson said, those people would have found private sector jobs.

“This year, however, the private sector not only failed to absorb the new entrants, but actually lost 7,400 jobs overall from the previous month,” he said.

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Anderson said high gas prices are also hurting businesses by reducing demand for any purchases beyond basic necessities. He said fuel prices, however, are expected to decline some in the coming months, providing some relief.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Jim Gibbons said it’s important in tough times for the state to encourage creation of new jobs and to attract new businesses to Nevada.

He said that means resisting the pressure to increase business taxes.

Despite the rising unemployment, Nevada’s total labor force continued to grow over the past year and is now past 1.4 million workers. In July 2007 the total was just over 1.3 million. Fully 1 million of those are in the Las Vegas market which reported 6.8 percent unemployment for July compared to 5.1 percent a year earlier.

In Reno-Sparks, the rate was 6.5 percent compared with 4.5 percent a year ago. And Carson City was at 6.6 percent compared to 5 percent a year ago. That means 2,000 out of 30,100 workers in the capital reporting area are without jobs.

Elko, still enjoying the mining boom, had the lowest out-of-work percentage at 4 percent.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.