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Jobless rate holds steady, but improving in some sectors

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: The September jobs report released today contained some hints of economic life in recession-battered Nevada, even though the unemployment rate held steady at a double-digit 13.4 percent rate from August.

While still tops in the nation in unemployment, Nevada saw a decline in the jobless rate in the Las Vegas area, to 13.6 percent from 14.3 percent in August. The Reno-Sparks and Carson City areas also saw declines.

While Nevada’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged after three months of increases, it is well below the 14.9 percent rate reported in September 2010, according to the report released by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Nevada also saw some job growth in September over August, adding 10,000 jobs, although most were seasonal. When seasonality is factored in, the state gained 1,800 jobs.

“This month, it appears the unemployment rate is stabilizing and that job growth is outpacing job losses,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “While this is a good sign for our economy, we must continue to look for ways to spur job creation and offer job retraining to Nevada’s workforce.”

Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said: “In months past I’ve talked about signs of stability and an economy that is essentially moving sideways. But now I think there are some definite signs of improvement, albeit modest improvement; I don’t want to overstate its significance.

“By far we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “Our job levels are still down by about 175,000 from where they were at the beginning of the recession. But we are starting to see some signs of pockets of improvement.”

Those pockets include the tourism industry, and they are starting to translate into new jobs in some employment sectors, Anderson said.

Nevada’s statewide rate is adjusted for seasonality. The local rates are not. The seasonal adjustment process takes into account normal and predictable fluctuations in labor market activity due to such reoccurring factors as changes in the weather, the beginning and end of the academic year and the timing of holidays in estimating the unemployment rate.

Employment is up in seven of the eleven major industry groups compared to the same month in 2010. It is significant improvement from two years ago when only one industry, education and health services registered employment growth.

In recent months, the construction industry has shown some signs of life. In September, the industry added employment for the fifth consecutive month. The addition of 1,600 new jobs pushed September’s employment estimate 200 jobs higher than the same month last year. It marks the first time in nearly five years that the construction industry posted an over-the-year increase.

While a positive sign overall, it is too early to tell if the shift marks a turning point in the industry’s fortunes. Expectations for a strong turnaround are generally low given continued trouble in housing and commercial development, but it is a positive development none the less, the report says.

Other sectors adding jobs include the professional and business services industry, which added 1,300 jobs in September and is up 6,500 or 4.8 percent from the same month last year. Leisure and hospitality held steady at 321,200, but in the last year the industry added 11,300 jobs, a 3.6 percent increase.

The public sector saw some job growth from August due primarily to the start of the new school year, but in the past 12 months, state, local and federal government has collectively lost 5,100 jobs, a decline of 3.3 percent.

State government has lost 1,600 jobs compared to September 2010, and local government, including teachers, has lost 3,600 jobs. The federal government added 100 jobs over the year.

Audio clips:

State economist Bill Anderson says the September jobs report shows some signs of improvement:

102111Anderson1 :17 overstate its significance.”

But Anderson says Nevada has a long way to go to recover from the job losses of the great recession:

102111Anderson2 :13 pockets of improvement.”

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