by Scott Neuffer

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September 11, 2012
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State Demographer: Douglas was losing hospitality jobs before recession

One of Douglas County's primary industries was shedding jobs before the recession hit in 2007, according to a new report issued by State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle.

In a presentation to county commissioners last week, Hardcastle pointed out that the county lost 2,075 jobs between 2001 and 2007 in the accommodation and food service industry - in casinos, restaurants and hotels.

The same sector continued to shed 2,128 more jobs between 2007 and 2010, in the heart of the recession, and then added 112 jobs between 2010 and 2011.

Hardcastle's data partially belies the notion that the county was booming in a heyday before the recession, and it arrives at a time when employment, specifically a lack of employment, has become the focus of a presidential campaign.

Between 2001 and 2007, the county saw a net gain of only 604 jobs in all industries, Hardcastle reported. While hospitality saw the largest employment decline before the recession, retail trade saw the largest increase - a modest 942 jobs, presumably created by retail development in northern Douglas County.

Manufacturing gained 187 jobs in the same time period. Real estate, rental and leasing gained 131, and healthcare and social assistance industries added 299 jobs.

The construction industry, largely perceived to be booming before the recession, only added 351 jobs between 2001 and 2007.

Then came the financial crisis of 2008. The floor collapsed beneath the housing bubble, and the construction industry in Douglas County shed 1,126 jobs between 2007 and 2010, Hardcastle reported. Retail trade lost 374 jobs in the same time period, manufacturing lost 252, real estate, rental and leasing shrunk by 71, and health care and social assistance industries lost 49 jobs.

In total, across all industries, Douglas County shed a staggering 4,327 jobs between 2007 and 2010.

Returning from the depths of the recession, the county added 148 jobs between 2010 and 2011, Hardcastle reported. While accommodation and food services rose by 112 jobs in that time frame, construction lost an additional six jobs, retail trade fell by another 48, and manufacturing rose slightly with 21 new jobs. Real estate, rental and leasing saw an increase of 49 jobs, and health care and social assistance industries added 54 jobs.

From 2000 to 2006, the state's population as a whole was growing at 3.8 percent, Hardcastle reported. Construction employment in that same time period was growing disproportionately at 8.2 percent, compared to just 2.4 percent construction job growth in the nation.

Total employment in the Silver State was growing at 3.8 percent before the recession, matching the actual rate of population growth, Hardcastle reported. During the recession, between 2006 and 2010, the state's population shrank by 1.8 percent, and total employment shrank by 3.2 percent. Construction employment, on the other hand, fell by 19.6 percent in the same time period.

The general loss of construction jobs made economic recovery more difficult in the Silver State, Hardcastle said. But he did point out some bright spots in Douglas County.

In manufacturing, while employment numbers remain flat, productivity has been steadily increasing, generating more revenue. Hardcastle said that manufacturing in Douglas County "has been growing as a competitive sector for a decade."

"You may not be seeing gains in the number of employees," he said, "but you are seeing gains in productivity of workers."

Overall, Hardcastle reported, the county's population, last estimated at 47,661 people, is aging. He projected the population to stay flat over the next 20 years, but the subpopulation of seniors to grow in the sane time period.

His projections show the number of residents 65 or older rising from 9,737 in 2010 to 16,958 in 2030.

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The Record Courier Updated Sep 11, 2012 02:39PM Published Sep 11, 2012 02:37PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.