Jobless rate dips for 7th straight month

For the seventh straight month, Nevada's unemployment rate fell in March.

The seasonally adjusted rate is now at 12 percent. The raw rate is 11.9 percent - both numbers two-tenths lower than they were in February.

Carson City added 200 jobs, dropping the rate two-tenths to 12.4 percent. However, 3,400 of Carson City's 27,800 workers still are looking for work.

In the capital, there are 1,000 fewer jobs compared with the same month last year. It is primarily a reflection of the high percentage of public sector jobs in the capital. The private sector is showing signs of life and adding jobs but government jobs are continuing to decline.

"Unfortunately, most of the decline was attributed to erosion in the labor force as opposed to outright improvement," said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

He said that refers to "discouraged workers who have simply given up looking for work."

The DETR system only tracks those who are looking for work. When all jobless are added in, the total rate is estimated in the 20 percent range.

The Las Vegas rate dropped a tenth in March to 12.1 percent. The Reno rate fell two-tenths to 12.2.

Anderson said a payroll survey of employers was more encouraging. While Nevada would typically expect to add about 3,700 workers in March, the actual gain was 8,700 jobs.

Over the month Reno added 300 jobs and Las Vegas 3,600 jobs. However, only in Las Vegas is that a net gain year-over-year, with 2,100 more jobs than in March 2011. But there still are 162,500 unemployed within the 977,100 workers there.

In the Reno area, there are 1,400 fewer jobs and 26,600 of 222,200 in the labor force looking for work.

By contrast, rural areas, especially in the north, continue to benefit from the mining boom and the $1,650-an-ounce price of gold. Across Elko, Eureka, Hander, Humboldt and White Pine counties, the unemployment rates ranged from 5.7 to 7.1 percent.

In Churchill County, the rate was a bit higher at 9.8 percent, still better than the state as a whole. Some 1,280 out of 13,020 in the workforce there were jobless at the end of March. Still, after popping up above 10 percent in January and February, Churchill is back in single digits for the first time since December.

Douglas County's 13.5 percent rate translates to 2,900 out of 21,420 workers seeking employment.

Lyon County remains the highest unemployment in the state, with 3,640 out of 22,380 out of work. While that translates to 16.2 percent, that is 1.2 percent lower than Lyon's rate was in January.

The biggest gains for the month were 3,000 jobs added by professional and business services. Leisure and hospitality employment rose 1,300 in March.


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