(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Nevada received some rare good news on the economic front today as a state agency reported that in October, the state’s jobless rate declined three-tenths of a percentage point to 13 percent from September.
The reasons for the decline tempered the good news to some extent, however.
Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation attributed the lower seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to a decline in the state’s labor force and “some” stabilization in the employment situation.
Until today’s report, Nevada’s unemployment rate had risen, uninterrupted, since 2008.
“As we head into the holiday season, this is welcome news; however it is not a reason to be overly optimistic,” he said. “The state’s well chronicled economic difficulties are far from over. We expect the unemployment rate to continue to rise over time, but we are seeing some signs of stabilization.”
Anderson said the decline is due more to a stagnant or declining labor force than an improvement on the employment front.
“At best, October’s trends, coupled with a growing belief that national conditions are (tentatively) on the mend, suggest that the economy may be in the process of stabilizing, but at a level which will still result in continued hardships for many Nevadans,” he said.
There were 175,300 state residents officially counted as unemployed in October.
Although the unemployment rate actually increased by four-tenths of a percentage point at the national level in October (to 10.2 percent, seasonally adjusted), it is still 2.8 percentage points lower than in Nevada. Nevada’s October reading is up from 7.7 percent in October 2008.
Within the state, the unemployment rate fell approximately one full percentage point relative to September in each of Nevada’s metropolitan areas. The rates in the metropolitan areas are not seasonally adjusted.
Las Vegas’ unemployment rate came in at 13 percent in October, down from 13.9 percent in September. In the Reno-Sparks region, the jobless rate settled at 12.2 percent for the month, down from 13.1 percent.
“Economic conditions in the near-term are likely to be quite volatile, with some months (such as October) being better than others, while in some months we will likely take a step back,” Anderson said.
All told in October, there were 1.18 million jobs in Nevada public and private sector establishments, essentially unchanged from the previous month. However, measured relative to a year ago, payrolls in Nevada have been cut by 75,100 jobs, a six percent decline.
October job readings in 2009 are nearly identical to those from the same month in 2004, suggesting that that the current economic downturn has erased five years of expansion, Anderson noted.
The construction sector’s difficulties are well-documented. Statewide job levels peaked at close to 150,000 in mid-2006. October 2009 job levels came to just 83,700.
The state’s largest employer, the leisure and hospitality sector, continues to struggle. An additional 2,000 jobs were cut relative to September. At 307,700, October job readings were down by nearly 20,000 relative to a year ago.