County unemployment rate falls to 8.3 percent

For the first time in five months, the county’s unemployment rate dropped, falling to 8.3 percent in July, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

The department reported that the rate fell two-tenths of a percent, from 8.5 percent in June. This marks the first time the rate decreased since February.

Of the 16,024 civilian labor force in the county, 14,691 had employment, while 1,333 were without jobs.

The unemployment rate rose and stayed steady, jumping from an eight-year low of 7.5 percent in February, topping at 8.5 percent in June after sitting at 7.9 percent in April and May.

Tammi Odegard, workforce director at NyE Communities Coalition, said that there is an above-average amount of employment opportunities available in town.

“There are approximately 100 open jobs in Pahrump, most of them being entry-level jobs,” Odegard said. “I have seen more and more mid-to-upper-level positions open up recently.”

Of the jobs popping up, Odegard said that NyECC has had fair success after planting bodies in those positions.

“As long as people are willing to work and willing to do what the employer wants, they’re having good success (after they’re hired),” she said.

Odegard sees a steady improvement ahead for the unemployment rate, going off what she’s seen in the market lately.

“I know of at least one new business that opened this month that employed a good amount of people,” she said. “I’m also hearing of other businesses coming in, so I think we’re going to see an upward trend here for a while. Especially in the hospitality industry.”

Statewide, the trend was similar for Nevada as a whole, as the jobless rate also fell for the first time since February, dropping from 6.8 percent in June to 6.3 percent in July. The unemployment rate also hit its lowest point for the year in February with 5.7 percent.

Despite the trend of rising rates coming to an end after seeing them rise for the majority of the year, Gov. Brian Sandoval is optimistic about the employment climate in Nevada.

“I remain encouraged by the consistent job growth we’re continuing to experience across Nevada,” Sandoval said. “The private sector continues to increase employment opportunities and as a result, we are on the verge of regaining all of the more than 175,000 jobs lost during the recession. Despite this significant progress, our unemployment rate is still too high and we will continue our efforts so that more businesses can create jobs and every Nevadan who wants a full-time job can find one.”

Despite job trends trekking on an upward slope, Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR is unsure why the unemployment rate hasn’t followed suit as much.

“Given that job trends are impressive and unemployment insurance claims activity is holding relatively steady at pre-recession levels, it is a challenge to understand the upward pressure on the jobless rate,” Anderson said.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at Follow @mickakers on Twitter.