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What Gives? Reno Unemployment Up While Jobs Boom (Subscriber Content)

By John Seelmeyer
Inside the Tesla Gigafactory. Image: Bob Conrad.
Inside the Tesla Gigafactory. Image: Bob Conrad.

Nearly 15,000 more people are working in the Reno-Sparks area today than a year ago, and the number of working people jumped by 1,900 during the month of June alone.

Yet, the region’s unemployment rate ticked upward — standing at 3.4 percent in June, compared with 3 percent a year earlier.

What gives?

The answer is pretty simple: Even though employers are adding workers at breakneck pace, especially in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Sparks, the number of people looking for work is growing even faster.

Researchers at the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported a few days ago that the labor force in the Reno-Sparks area totaled 267,200 people in June. That figure includes everyone who has a job, along with the estimated 9,100 people who are looking for work.

A year ago, the region’s labor force was estimated at 264,100 — 3,100 less than today. Since then, workers have moved to the region from elsewhere in the country, new graduates have begun looking for jobs and people who hadn’t bothered looking for a job in the past are dusting off their resumes.

The pace of job growth in Reno — 6 percent in the past year — puts it in first place among Nevada’s cities. And Nevada has been leading the nation in job creation.

Manufacturing continues to drive job growth in the region, adding 3,900 jobs in the past year. From 2016 to 2018, the state researchers have noted, the number of manufacturing jobs at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center alone rose from 600 to about 9,400. (Tesla helped.)

Construction has added 1,700 jobs in the region in the past year, and retailing has added 1,300.