Unemployment falls as workers leave

Nevada's unemployment rate fell six-tenths of a percent in February, but not because businesses are hiring again.

According to Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the percentage dipped to 13.6 percent mostly because workers are either leaving the state or giving up the search for a job.

"The labor force declined by 7,700 while the number of unemployed fell by 8,700, suggesting that many workers have given up looking for work," Anderson said.

Over the past year, he said Nevada's total workforce has reduced by 45,000.

February marks the 25th straight month of double-digit unemployment in the state.

There were some favorable signs in the numbers. Statewide, the leisure and hospitality industry added 1,500 jobs, bringing the state's largest industry to 3,800 more jobs than a year ago. In addition, the hard-hit construction industry gained 1,000 jobs in February, mostly in specialty contractors.

The largest loss was reported by retail businesses - 1,200 jobs.

In the Carson City and Reno/Sparks markets, the rate declined a tenth from January to 13.5 and 13.2 percent respectively. The capital reported a gain of more than 400 jobs for the month, nearly all of that in the state government category.

The Reno metropolitan area reported adding 1,100 jobs in the month, some 200 in goods producing industries and 900 in service providers. The addition of 1,200 jobs in state government was partly offset by declines elsewhere in the Reno/Sparks market.

In Carson City, there are 3,750 looking for work in a labor force of 27,870.

In Reno/Sparks, 28,340 are jobless out of 215,010.

But Anderson said the recovery appears to be coming a bit faster in Reno and Carson City than Southern Nevada. Both areas have higher employment than they did a year ago while Las Vegas remains more than 5,100 jobs below a year ago.

The unemployment rate in Las Vegas was unchanged at 13.7 percent with 129,900 out of the 945,500 in the workforce looking for a job.

With gold prices still at record levels, the Elko/-Eureka reporting area remains in the best shape in Nevada with an unemployment rate of just 7.7 percent.

Churchill County's unemployment rate dipped two-tenths of a percent from January to February. The 1,440 out of work in a 12,740 labor force amounts to 11.3 percent unemployment.

Douglas County, too, saw a lower rate in February - 3,170 out of 20,990 workers equates to a 15.1 percent unemployment rate - two-tenths lower than in January.

Lyon County remains hardest hit with 4,160 of 21,930 workers jobless. But that 18.9 percent unemployment rate still is three-tenths better than January.

Statewide, 178,500 are jobless in a labor force totaling just more than 1.3 million.


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