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New federal report shows broader unemployment measure high but holding steady in Nevada


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A broader measure of Nevada’s unemployment picture, including those who have given up looking for work, showed no change through the third quarter of 2011, holding at 23.3 percent, a federal report released today shows.

The quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing data through Sept. 30, mirrors the status of Nevada’s official jobless rate for September, which also remained steady at 13.4 percent from August.

The report shows a state-by-state unemployment measure that encompasses discouraged workers and those who are working part time even though they would like full-time employment. When these individuals are counted, the unemployment rate is much higher than the official rate released each month nationally and by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Nevada again ranked worst among the states at 23.3 percent in the report, which covers 12 months of data. Nevada also has the highest official unemployment rate among the states.

Occupy Wall Street protestor. / Photo: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.

The national rate in the quarterly report improved slightly to 16.2 percent from 16.3 percent through June 30, 2011.

California was again in second place in the report at 21.6 percent, also a slight improvement from the 21.8 percent reported through June 30.

Nevada and California are the only two states in the nation with a rate above 20 percent.

The “Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States, Fourth Quarter of 2010 through Third Quarter of 2011 Averages,” shows six different jobless rates using different measures. The broadest definition, U-6, includes “discouraged workers,” defined as people who want work but who had not searched for work in the previous four weeks because they believed no jobs were available to them. It also includes “marginally attached” workers, defined as those who had not looked for work in the previous four weeks for any reason.

Finally the measure includes those employed part-time for economic reasons, defined as those working less than 35 hours per week who want to work full time, are available to do so, and gave an economic reason – their hours had been cut back or they were unable to find a full-time job – for working part time. These individuals are sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that this broader definition of unemployment is based on relatively small sample sizes at the state level.

While Nevada’s official jobless rate held steady in September, Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, noted some modest signs of improvement in the monthly report released Oct. 21.

While still in the double digits, the 13.4 percent official jobless rate is below the 14.9 percent reported for Nevada in September 2010.

Nevada’s battered economy was a focus of the visit by President Obama to Las Vegas on Monday. Nevada’s high jobless and home foreclosure rates are expected to be major issues in the 2012 general election.

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