By Mark Waite
The Nye County unemployment rate dropped from 15.5 percent in July to 14.8 percent in August, according to the latest statistics released by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
The July unemployment figures however spiked in Nye County, after being in a range of 14 to 15 percent since March.
The Nye County unemployment rate has steadily dropped from 16.2 percent in January and 17 percent in August 2011. While that may seem like an improvement, the county labor force declined from 18,118 workers in August 2011 to 17,666 by January 2012 and 17,579 in August. The number of employed workers in the county actually declined by 60 workers from August 2011 to August 2012, dropping from 15,040 to 14,980 according to DETR statistics, but the number of unemployed dropped by 489 people, from 3,078 to 2,589.
The statewide unemployment rate inched up from 12 percent in July to 12.1 percent in August. Reno had an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, while Elko continued to be the bright spot in the state economy due to the booming mining industry, with an unemployment rate of only 6.1 percent.
Job growth in Nevada wasn’t as strong as anticipated, according to the state employment report. DETR reported Nevada suffered from a summer decline of 3,600 jobs, but the state had 5,200 more jobs in August 2012 than in August 2011, with private sector gains of 12,800 jobs in the past year offsetting cuts in the public sector. Nevertheless, the statewide job gains decreased from 11,600 jobs from May 2011 to May 2012 and 14,300 jobs from June 2011 to June 2012.
Brian Gordon, a principal in Applied Analysis, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal leisure and hospitality remained the largest contributor to employment growth in Southern Nevada, though expansion has trended downward since the beginning of 2012. People are getting back to work, but at a slow pace, below where it will make any meaningful dent in unemployment rates, he said.
The state employment report identified some positive signs: existing home prices have risen in each of the past four months compared to the previous year though new home sales failed to gain upward momentum. Taxable sales are on the rise, visitor activity is healthy and gaming wins by casinos rose 17 percent in July.
“Fundamentals are improving, which can only mean good news for Nevada. For instance, the number of online help wanted announcements reached a recessionary low in early 2009. Since then it has increased by about 70 percent,” the DETR report states.
Nevada continues to have a higher jobless rate than the nation, which had an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent in August.
The monthly unemployment rates were quickly picked up by candidates in the hotly-contested U.S. Senate race.
“Today marks nearly three years that Nevada has led the nation in unemployment. The policies that have come out of Washington have not helped middle class families in our state,” said U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.