Published Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 | 10:26 a.m.
Updated Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 | 12:24 p.m.
CARSON CITY – Unemployment in the Las Vegas area jumped to a record 14.9 percent in December with an estimated 142,500 people looking for a job.
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported today the statewide rate escalated to a high of 14.5 percent with an estimated 193,000 unemployed. Record highs also were set in the Reno-Sparks area and Carson City.
Bill Anderson, chief economist for the department, said Nevada employers reported improvements while results of a household survey for unemployment showed the opposite. But Anderson said the labor market is starting to stabilize in Nevada.
“It will simply be a long process to reverse the damage caused by the recession over the past few years.
Employers added 2,700 jobs statewide during the holiday shopping season, compared to December 2009 when employers laid off 3,500.
The unemployment rate in the Las Vegas area rose from 14.3 percent in November to 14.9 percent in December. Total employment fell from 819,400 in November to 813,100 in December.
Construction employment in the Las Vegas area fell to 44,100, down 1,400 jobs from the previous month. There were 300 fewer jobs in manufacturing, where 19,300 were employed.
But utilities, transportation and trade jobs rose in Southern Nevada from 145,000 in November to 146,200 in December.
Employment in the hotel and casino industry inched up from 154,200 in November to 154,300 in December, likely due to hiring at the new Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resort.
The department said unemployment in the Reno-Sparks area hit 13.8 percent. It was 14 percent in Carson City. The U.S. rate was 9.1 percent and California’s was 12.4 percent.
Anderson said a number of factors will determine the future health of the labor market.
“We must watch the trends over a period of time before making a solid prediction of which way the unemployment rate will go,” he said. “At this point it is reasonable to expect the rate will not be as volatile as in the past.”
Nevada’s delegation in Washington collectively mourned the snap back to a higher unemployment rate.
“Today’s deeply disappointing unemployment figures reconfirm the need to focus like a laser on creating jobs for out-of-work Nevadans struggling to make ends meet,” said Senator Harry Reid. “One way to strengthen Nevada’s economy is to end the political grandstanding on repealing health insurance reform and for everyone to turn their full attention to ensuring every Nevadan who wants to work has that opportunity.”
“Today’s unemployment numbers underscore the need to create stability and foster an environment for economic growth here in our state,” said Rep. Joe Heck. “There is temptation to blame one party or another; one person or another; but we cannot fall into that trap. The quickest way to a strong and vibrant economy is together.”
Sun reporter Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.