The labor market has continued to improve for 11 consecutive months, but Nevada remains among the states most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).
Nonetheless, the report said, “increasing vaccination rates have provided hope that the economy will have a stronger rebound in the second half of the year, though the months immediately ahead are likely to remain challenging.”
In February, Nevada’s unemployment rate was 8.4%, the fifth highest rate out of all states. DETR Director Elisa Cafferata told state legislators at that time that the department had paid out $9 billion through various unemployment programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Unemployment in March had fallen to 8.1%. That’s still up from a seasonally adjusted 6.4% in March of 2020.
In Reno and Sparks, the unemployment rate is much lower than in the state as a whole. There were 45,669 unemployed people in the region at the high of the pandemic, more than 20% of the entire workforce. There are still more than 13,000 people without jobs, but the region’s overall unemployment has fallen to just 4.9%.
The state added back 4,700 jobs last month, but 126,356 Nevadans remained unemployed out of a workforce of just over 1.5 million people. Since March of 2020, the state has lost nearly 135,000 jobs.
Reno employment saw an increase of 700 jobs between February and March. Las Vegas added 4,400. Carson City, however, saw a decrease of 300 jobs.
According to DETR, leisure and hospitality contributed the largest increase in employment, mostly in the Las Vegas area. The professional and businesses services industry also contributed to job growth thanks to temporary and professional help services bringing back staff to support the leisure and hospitality industry.
DETR reported that “this month’s job growth and news about increased activity following relaxation of capacity restrictions on businesses is encouraging.”
While there is still ongoing significant disruption, highly concentrated in the Las Vegas area, the state is adding jobs back in businesses that cater to tourism, which indicates businesses in the state may be gearing up to capture the pent-up demand for travel and tourism worldwide.
Gov. Steve Sisolak recently announced that he plans for the state to be fully reopened by June 1.
“The combination of increasing activity, relaxed restrictions, increasing vaccine availability, and the return of work search requirements on unemployment claims should be reflected in increased employment and economic activity as we head into the summer, though current employment levels still remain well below pre-pandemic levels,” said David Schmidt, DETR chief economist.
DETR’s report also notes that additional labor market data can be found on the department’s employment and unemployment dashboards located at www.nevadaworkforce.com.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.