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Nevada jobless rate actually above 20 percent based on U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics data


by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Nevada’s worst in the nation 14.3 percent unemployment rate for July does not even begin to tell the real story of the state’s dismal job situation, a state agency reported today.

The actual unemployment rate in Nevada through the second quarter of 2010 is 21.5 percent, according to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The announced jobless rate reported over the same time frame was 13.1 percent, an 8.4 percentage point difference.

“The actual unemployment rate presents a more complete picture of what is currently occurring in the economy,” says the news release from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

The agency said the difference in the two numbers is due to the fact that the monthly jobless report underestimates the number of unemployed. The monthly report only estimates unemployed workers who are actively seeking employment. It does not include workers who are too discouraged to seek employment and have given up searching, or workers employed part time for economic reasons.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the actual unemployment rate by state as a four quarter moving average. That average through June 30 is 21.5 percent.

“Use of the alternative measure of unemployment for research purposes is limited since the information is only available for the past five years, so comparisons to past recessions is not possible,” DETR reported. “But, from a policy perspective, the actual unemployment rate presents a more complete picture of what is currently occurring in the economy.

“Despite the historic run up in the unemployment rate, the reality of the recession’s impacts on Nevada’s workforce is much worse than presented,” the report said.

The July monthly report released today shows a one-tenth of a percentage point increase in the jobless rate to 14.3 percent, a new state record and the 16th consecutive new high for the state. Nearly 200,000 people are looking for work.

The report shows that Nevada saw the loss of 9,600 jobs in July, with 5,600 of those coming from the public sector. But for the first time since March, private employers reported fewer jobs as well, according to the report.

The report also notes that in June the Las Vegas metropolitan area had the highest jobless rate of all metro areas with one million or more population, surpassing even Detroit, Mich.

With an increase of an additional two-tenths to 14.8 percent in July, Las Vegas will likely maintain the highest rate for yet another month, the agency reported.

The state’s record high unemployment rate, combined with Congressional approval last year of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is aimed at reducing the national jobless rate, have become major campaign issues in the Nevada Senate race between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP challenger Sharron Angle.

Many Republicans are calling the stimulus act a failure at creating jobs and full of wasteful spending.

Reid has defended the program, which a spokesman said today will bring over $3 billion in federal funding to create jobs and spur economic growth in Nevada.

Nevada State Controller Kim Wallin has added a weekly stimulus funds report to her website detailing the most current ARRA activity in Nevada.

The summary is intended to compliment the quarterly ARRA reports also provided by the controller’s office summarizing the financial activity as of the end of the quarter and specific information about on-going stimulus projects.

As of June 30, the state had been awarded just under $2.5 billion in stimulus funds, with nearly $2 billion actually received by the state and just under that amount spent, according to the quarterly report.

The report says that during the period from April 1 through June 30, 6,597 jobs were funded by the recovery act. State stabilization funding account ed for 5,050 jobs within the Nevada System of Higher Education. In addition K-12 Education accounted for 521, transportation accounted for 296, and health and human services accounted for 265 added jobs.

The National Senatorial Republican Committee (NRSC) weighed in today on Nevada’s unemployment rate, saying it is proof that the stimulus program signed into law in February 2009 has failed.

The funding bill has been criticized as well for including spending on questionable projects, such as a tree plantingprogram in Clark County, among others.

“If you’re a monkey with a cocaine addiction or a smoker who needs a cell phone, this stimulus boondoggle has been a great success,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. “Unfortunately, if you’re a Nevada family struggling to make a mortgage payment, a worker trying to find a job or a young person who will ultimately be responsible for paying back the billions that Harry Reid has borrowed on the government credit card, the stimulus has been a stunning failure.”

Reid spokesman Kelly Steele said the stimulus dollars have prevented “Great Depression” levels of unemployment.

“Our economic times are still extremely tough and recovery certainly won’t happen overnight, but the very last thing Nevadans need is someone like Sharron Angle, who believes it’s not her job to get Nevadans back to work, would shred the safety net that puts food on their tables, and opposes Sen. Reid’s Wall Street reform that would ensure our current housing and foreclosure crisis will never happen again,” Steele said.

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