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April report shows Nevada’s unemployment rate near 30%

Updated May 26, 2020 - 8:25 pm

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced Friday that its April 2020 economic report showed employment in Nevada is down 244,800 jobs over the month with unemployment up to 28.2 percent.

This is the first report which covers the period affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency and shows the impact of temporary business closures in the state.

“Nevada is facing record high unemployment, and the sheer numbers are difficult to comprehend,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said. “I am so pleased that DETR staff is working so hard to connect Nevadans to their benefits during this time, paying out more than 80 percent of eligible claims week over week. Nevada is working diligently to get people back to work as fast as possible, in a safe and responsible manner.”

DETR’s report also notes that employment is down 254,800 over the year, a growth rate of minus-18 percent. Nevada’s employment dropped to levels last seen in 2013 and realized the largest month and year decline on record, which dates back to 1990.

The state’s unemployment rate is 28.2 percent this month, up 21.3 percentage points from March and up 24.2 percentage points when compared to last April. Nevada’s Unemployment Insurance saw an increase of 197,067 claims, or 1,955%, from the same month a year ago. Initial claims are nearly six times the previous high set in December 2008, when the state saw 36,414 initial claims.

“The numbers in this month’s report, while sobering, do not come as a surprise,” said David Schmidt, chief economist for DETR. “Our weekly unemployment claim report has shown a significant impact to the service industry in Nevada, and estimates of unemployment in the state are in line with our data on people filing for unemployment insurance.

“There is no precedent for data like this, neither the magnitude of the shift nor the speed with which it has happened. Because this is largely driven by policy response designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as businesses in the state are allowed to reopen we should expect to see a corresponding decline in the number of people unemployed as Nevadans return to work.”

Schmidt noted that private sector employment saw a 20% drop and public sector employment realized a reduction of 3.2% in the state. Leisure and hospitality was, by far, the most affected industry this month and dropped to employment levels last seen in 1993, nearly 30 years ago.

Before this month, the largest over-the-year decline in employment was 10.3 percent in 2009 during the great recession. Nevada’s over-the-year decline in employment this month was more than 5% higher than the nation.

The industries to lose the most jobs were the accommodation and food service industry (down 40.9%), the administrative support industry (down 28.2%) and the other services industry (off 24.8%).

Over the year, the federal government (4.7%), as well as the finance and insurance (+0.5%) and construction (+0.1%) added jobs.

The unemployment rate in Nevada moved much higher than the national rate in April, rising to 28.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis and 29.8% on an unadjusted basis; the national rate was 14.7% adjusted, 14.5% unadjusted.

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