By Mark Waite
The Nye County unemployment rate dropped to 13.1 percent in October, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, down a half-percentage point from 13.6 percent in September.
The October unemployment rate in the county is well below the 14.8 percent annual average for 2012. Nye County had an unemployment rate of 16.2 percent back in January which dropped to 14.7 percent by March.
DETR reported there were 15,478 employed out of a county work force of 17,819 in October, leaving 2,341 unemployed. In September, DETR reported there were 90 fewer people employed in Nye County, 15,388, while there were 16 fewer people in the work force, 17,803, leaving 2,415 unemployed, or 74 fewer than in October.
DETR reported the state unemployment rate dropped to 11.5 percent in October from 11.8 percent in September.
The lowest unemployment rates in the state were in northeastern Nevada, which is enjoying a mining boom amid high gold prices. Elko County had an unemployment rate of only 5.4 percent in October, Humboldt County 5.6 percent.
“October’s unemployment rate is the lowest rate since May of 2009, a significant step for our state,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a prepared statement. “While this news is welcome, our state’s unemployment rate remains at a high level and continues to indicate the need for sustained economic diversification and private sector job growth.”
DETR expected the state to gain 2,500 new positions in September, but preliminary estimates point to a gain of 4,700, which when factored for seasonal adjustments amounted to an increase of 2,200 jobs, DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson said in a report issued this week.
So far this year, private sector payrolls are up 11,000 compared to the first 10 months of 2011, based upon estimates from the monthly survey of businesses. Public sector payrolls have shown signs of leveling off following an extended downturn, he said.
“All things considered, available information suggests that Nevada’s labor market has been on the mend since right around the beginning of 2011,” Anderson said. “One of the broadest barometers of economic well being, average weekly wages, has followed suit. After two years of outright declines during the recession, wages have been trending up ever since. Despite some weakness in this year’s second quarter, through the first half of the year, wages are up 2.6 percent from the same six-month period in 2011. So far this year wages have averaged $830 per week.”
But DETR reported employment in Nevada is down 157,000 from the start of the recession in December 2007.
Nevada’s two senators issued different spins on the statistics depending on their political party.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “The continued reduction in Nevada’s unemployment rate is promising. Nevadans are getting back to work, but small businesses in our state still need opportunities to expand and hire new workers. We must do more to ensure Nevada’s middle class is made stronger.
“Nevadans and Americans across the country agree that we can strengthen the middle class by adopting a balanced fiscal policy that requires millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more. In July, the Senate passed a bill to cut taxes for the 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses making less than $250,000. House Republicans should stop trying to protect the wealthiest Americans from contributing their fair share and pass this bill immediately. Middle class Americans will have more opportunities to succeed when we level the playing field and make tax policy fairer.”
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said, “The decline in Nevada’s unemployment rate is encouraging, but more needs to be done to bolster our economy. Unemployment in the Silver State continues to far exceed the national average, which is why jobs, the economy, and getting Nevadans back to work continue to be my top priorities.
“Nevadans deserve good-paying jobs so they can provide for their families and stay in their homes. This begins with Washington providing the certainty job creators need to thrive and grow jobs. It is past time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to develop a plan to get the millions of unemployed Americans back to work. I am confident that by working together, we can develop solutions that get our nation and Nevada moving in the right direction,” Heller said.