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Nevada’s jobless rate hits 11.3 percent

May employment report shows 112,700 out of work in Clark County

Updated Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | 7:48 a.m.

Sen. Harry Reid statement

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today made the following statement about the record high jobless rate:

“My thoughts go out to the thousands of Nevadans struggling to stay in their homes and find new jobs. While the news of Nevada’s record high unemployment rate is very unsettling, it underscores the importance of the work we’re doing to help the economy recover and stabilize.

“We must remain vigilant in our effort to create jobs by investing in Nevada's renewable energy and transportation projects while continuing to help Nevadans who are struggling to get by.

“I will continue working with my colleagues to strengthen our state's economy and put an end to this crisis that has been years in the making.”

CARSON CITY – While some analysts are suggesting the recession may be bottoming out, Nevada’s jobless rate in May hit a record 11.3 percent with 154,600 persons unemployed.

And unemployment in Clark County climbed from 10.4 percent in April to 11.1 percent in May, with 112,700 jobless in the county.

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said the state’s rate is the highest since records started being kept in 1976. The previous high was 10.7 percent in December 1982.

William Anderson, chief economist for the department, said “There is some sentiment that the U.S. Economy may be near the bottom of the recession. Unfortunately, May brought with it news suggesting that economic conditions in Nevada remain extremely weak.”

There were 8,000 more people out of work in Clark County in May than in April. And the major sectors of the economy in Southern Nevada didn’t show improvement.

Construction employment fell to 78,900 or 1,100 less than were on the job in April. Casino and hotel employment dropped from 156,200 in April to 155,800 in May. The department said manufacturing employment remained at 23,800. But in the utilities, transportation and trade sector, there were an additional 200 more workers, bringing that total for May to 154,900.

Anderson said that employment historically is a “lagging” indicator of the economy’s health. When a recovery takes hold, the labor market does not respond immediately.

Only six states, including California, have higher unemployment rates, the department said. Nationally the unemployment rate jumped from 8.9 percent in April to 9.4 percent in May. And it 3.9 percentage points higher than a year ago.

From 2002-2006, Nevada’s jobless rate consistently fell below the national average. Since then Anderson said the rate is higher than the national level.

The department said investment for new construction projects in Nevada has dried up with employment in that sector falling 17 percent in the first quarter of 2009. The downturn in the economy has had varied effects on private businesses in Nevada.

From the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008, large employers shed 31,081 jobs. Medium-sized businesses with 50 to 499 workers lost 34,412 employees. And small business dropped 18,569 jobs.

The department said the jobless rate in the Reno-Sparks area increased to 11.2 percent, up two-tenths of a percentage point from April. The unemployment rate in Carson City remained at 10.8 percent. The jobless rate in Elko remained at six percent for May, the same as in April.

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