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Labor market picture fails to improve

An estimated 11.2 percent of Nye County workers were unemployed in October, according to the latest estimates from the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), a slight uptick from September, but over one percentage point less than October 2012.

Nye County’s unemployment rate continued to exceed the state’s average, with 9.3 percent of Nevadans unemployed in October.

The county unemployment rate has steadily declined, from 15.3 percent in January 2012 to 12.3 percent in October 2012. With the exception of June, the unemployment rate in Nye County this year has stayed below 12 percent every month since February. But while the unemployment rate declined, DETR estimates the Nye County total labor force also dropped from a 2013 high of 17,660 in February to 17,180 in October. Those unemployed in the county numbered 1,930 in October, those numbers dropped below the 2,000 level in August.

DETR reported statewide unemployment was down slightly from 9.4 percent in September to 9.3 percent in October, analysts said the Nevada labor market added 7,400 jobs, unlike the 8,800 jobs lost in September.

“While Nevada continues to experience monthly volatility, overall the Silver State is headed in the right direction,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “To continue the momentum of economic recovery, we must cultivate diverse industry opportunities and support job seekers in skills training.”

DETR reported unemployment rates in the two state population centers were at their lowest readings since October 2008 at the start of the recession. The unemployment rate in Reno was 8.8 percent, in Las Vegas 9.4 percent. Elko, which is experiencing a mining boom, continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the state of 5.5 percent.

DETR Chief Economic Bill Anderson said heading into the holiday season Nevada is expected to fare well. Last year, seasonal employment rose by 10,400 jobs statewide from September to December.

“Our expectation is to match or exceed 2012’s holiday-related seasonal gains,” Anderson said. “While we are still below pre-recessionary levels, this is good news for those who depend on holidays hiring for an opportunity to return to work or to supplement their income.”

The political spin on the latest unemployment figures depended on whether it was a Democrat or Republican doing the talking.

“Nevada’s unemployment continues to remain well above the national average, while at the same time, the reality of ObamaCare continues to take its toll. Meanwhile, in just a few short weeks, Washington will be facing a deadline for yet another short-term spending solution. Washington needs a reality check that unless changes are made, Nevadans will continue to struggle to grow their businesses, invest in their children, and ensure that this nation is strong for future generations,” said U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., applauded the latest figures.

“It is clear that Thursday’s employment numbers show that we are on the right track to economic recovery. The reduction in Nevada’s latest unemployment rate is encouraging, and we are making progress. At the same time, we must continue efforts to strengthen our state’s middle class and its small business community to ensure all Nevadans have a fair chance to succeed. We need to make job creation a priority, and not yield until our state is back on track and all hard-working Nevadans who want jobs have one,” Reid said.

“With so many challenges that continue to face our state and our nation, we all must do our part to ensure that every Nevadan who wants to work has that opportunity. I hope that Republicans will come to the negotiating table in good faith and work to replace the disastrous sequestration with commonsense spending cuts and policies that close wasteful tax loopholes and ask millionaires to pay their fair share,” he said.

The long term unemployed saw their benefits reduced in September as a result of federal budget cuts called sequestration. DETR reported more than 20,000 Nevadans saw a 59 percent reduction in federal extended unemployment benefits that began Aug. 31. Those benefits, known as Emergency Unemployment compensation, begins after a person has exhausted their regular unemployment benefits which typically last up to 26 weeks. Emergency Unemployment Compensation is paid in Nevada for up to 47 weeks by the federal government.

The cuts were reduced to 8 percent after the start of the new federal budget year Oct. 1. The average weekly benefit paid under unemployment is $290, the maximum amount that can be collected is $407. The maximum length of time someone can collect benefits is 73 weeks.