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Nevada’s unemployment rate jumps in July even as jobs are added


CARSON CITY – After hitting a three-year low in May and June, Nevada’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped four-tenths of a percentage point in July to 12 percent, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported today.

The continued high jobless rate, tops in the nation for yet another month, will be front and center when President Obama visits the state again next week, with stops in both Reno and Las Vegas.

Nevada is a battleground state in the 2012 presidential race.

The July rate is still down compared to July 2011 and remains 2 percentage points below the recessionary peak of 14 percent hit in October 2010, said DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson. The 12 percent rate of joblessness equates to 163,700 people out of work in the state.

And even though the jobless rate rose, Nevada saw job growth from June to July when 2,100 jobs were added, he said.

Employment has increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the past 13 months, and in 18 of the past 19 months, Anderson said.

“I think you have to put today’s report in a broader context,” he said. “Nationwide we saw 44 states with an increase in the unemployment rate from June to July. At the same time, about 31 states had job increases. So it was kind of a good news, bad news kind of a report, pretty much across the majority of states.

“I try not to put too much emphasis on one month’s report,” Anderson said. “So looking forward, I continue to think that we’ll see moderate improvement in the state’s economy and in our labor market. So nothing to write home about but certainly much better than where we were just a couple of short years ago.”

While not directly comparable to the state’s seasonally adjusted figure, the Las Vegas metro area has the highest unemployment rate among the state’s three population centers, at 12.9 percent, not seasonally adjusted, in July.

In Carson City, the July unemployment rate stood at 12.2 percent. The Reno-Sparks area tallied a 12 percent rate, Anderson said.

At the county level, the state’s rural regions where mining activity is occurring continue to have the lowest jobless rates. Lander County, with a rate of 5.7 percent in July, leads the way. Esmeralda is next lowest, at 6.5 percent, followed by Elko County’s 6.7 percent.

The highest unemployment rates continue to be found in the “bedroom communities” of Nye (15.5 percent) and Lyon (15.3 percent) counties.

Over the past 12 months, the Nevada economy has added 10,300 jobs, with 12,600 new positions in private establishments being partially offset by losses in the public sector. The leisure and hospitality sector continues to be the driving force behind Nevada’s job growth, providing 5,100 new jobs over the year and 1,200 over the month.

“I am pleased that job growth continued for a 13th consecutive month, but against the backdrop of a weak national economy not all the news was good,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. “As part of Nevada’s slow recovery, our state experienced a slight uptick in unemployment in July, as occurred in the country as a whole. This news is further evidence that we must continue business development efforts to attract new companies and support the expansion of existing companies to get more Nevadans back to work.”

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, according to a report released at the end of July.

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.

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