CARSON CITY – A broader measure of Nevada’s unemployment picture, including those who have given up looking for work, showed slight but continued improvement through the second quarter of 2012, a federal report released today shows.
Called the U-6 rate, it declined in Nevada from 22.3 percent in the four quarters through March 31 to 22.1 percent in the 12 months ending June 30, according to the quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nationally, the U-6 unemployment rate is 15.3 percent, down from 15.6 percent through the first quarter of 2012. The only other state above 20 percent is California, with a rate of 20.3 percent. North Dakota has the lowest rate at 6.1 percent.
The U-6 rate is sometimes referred to as the “actual” jobless rate because it includes discouraged workers and those working part-time who would like to be in full-time jobs.
Nevada’s U-6 rate compares to the June seasonally adjusted rate of 11.6 percent, which held steady from May. The June rate, considered to be the official unemployment rate, was reported last week by the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
Nevada leads the nation in both measures of unemployment.
Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR, said the good news for Nevada is that the unemployment rate is showing some “very modest” improvement.
“I think over time we will see the unemployment rate edge down,” he said. “There is going to be some good months, some bad months, but overall the trend is slightly downward.
“The same for the employment side of the equation, the more important employment side of the equation,” Anderson said. “Some good months, some bad months, but overall I think the positives will outweigh the negatives. But it is only going to translate into modest job growth.”
Prior to the recession Nevada was adding 60,000 jobs a year and the state was growing at four times the national labor market, he said. The current trend is about 15,000 jobs a year, Anderson said.
The official June jobless report noted that for the first half of the year, 14,000 jobs have been added in Nevada’s private sector establishments. This is on top of approximately 12,000 new jobs in 2011.
Gov. Brian Sandoval has made job creation a priority of his administration and is pushing forward with an economic development plan to help create 50,000 new jobs in Nevada by the end of 2014.
In commenting last week on the June report, Sandoval said, “I am encouraged by the fact that this is the 12th straight month of positive news, but we must continue working to support job growth by bringing new business to Nevada and allowing existing businesses to be successful.”
Nevada’s official jobless rate peaked at 14 percent in October 2010. The U-6 rate in Nevada for the 12 months of 2010 was 23.6 percent.
Anderson said: “We’ve got a long way to go until we get to the 4 percent rate that we were at essentially prior to the last recession. But nonetheless the news of late has been better than it was a year or two ago.”
The Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States shows six different jobless rates using different measures. The U-6 rate 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.