(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Nevada’s jobless rate rose one tenth of a percentage point in September from August to 13.2 percent, a state agency reported today.
The month-over-month increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was the smallest since March 2008, while the employment gain was the strongest since February 2007. Nevada employers added 11,000 jobs in September from the previous month.
The federal, state and local government job sector saw one of the biggest jumps in job growth due primarily to the start up of the school year, adding 9,800 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector saw the loss of 1,000 jobs. Professional and business services added 2,800 jobs. Construction lost 3,600 jobs.
“The deterioration in Nevada’s labor market eased a bit in September, but we will have to wait to see how future months unfold before we can conclude that the recession’s grip on the state’s economy is lessening,” said William Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation. “Still, it is best not to get overly optimistic based upon information for just one month. Nationwide, the unemployment rate came in at 9.8 percent in September, considerably below Nevada’s reading.”
The total number of unemployed Nevadans remains worrisomely high at 190,700, up by nearly 85,000 relative to a year ago.
“Similarly, job readings are off by 76,500 over the 12-month period,” Anderson said. “The bottom line is that once the economy does begin to recover, which it will, there is much ground to be made up.”
In the Las Vegas metro area, September’s unemployment rate came in at 13.9 percent, up from 7.7 percent a year ago.
Unemployment rates for the state’s metropolitan areas are not adjusted for seasonality. For comparison purposes, the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate was 13.5 percent in September.
Job levels in Las Vegas stand 56,300 below year-ago readings.
In the Reno-Sparks region, September’s employment count stands nearly 17,000 below a year ago. The unemployment rate, at 13.1 percent, is up markedly from a year ago, when it was 7.3 percent.
Carson City’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 12.8 percent in September, and payrolls were down nearly 2,000 relative to a year ago. In September 2008, the region’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.
Anderson said all industries within the state have felt the effects of the economic downturn, but none more so than construction. Construction benefited greatly from a booming economy, as building-related employment in Nevada increased by 48,000 between 1997 and 2007.
However, since then, 50,000 jobs have been lost, he said. Elsewhere, the leisure and hospitality industry added 77,300 jobs during the ten-year period ending in 2007.
However, within the past two years 30,000 jobs have been eliminated.
“The much-anticipated opening of the City Center Project in Las Vegas should help ease job losses in the months ahead, but for the industry as a whole the negatives continue to outweigh the positives,” Anderson said.
Both the professional and business services and trade/transportation/utilities sectors added in excess of 70,000 jobs during the economic boom. Since then, the former has cut nearly 15,000 positions, while the latter has cut payrolls by nearly 8,000.
Perhaps the earliest signs of the approaching recession showed up in residential real estate and construction activity beginning in approximately mid-2006. Arguably, one bright spot of late has to do with increases in resale activity. For instance, sales of existing homes have been on the upswing in southern Nevada since mid-2008. So far this year, resale activity has increased by more than 50 percent. However, on the flipside, a considerable portion of that increase in activity is attributable to distressed properties.
In addition to the City Center opening on the horizon, another event that, historically, has had a positive impact on the Nevada labor market – the holiday shopping season – is also close at hand. During this decade (through 2007), retail trade employment growth in Nevada (from October through December) has averaged nearly 6,000 jobs per year.
However, in 2008, job gains were just about one-half (3,100) of their recent norms.
“Once again, we expect the weak economy to limit the number of new seasonal hires this year,” Anderson said.