Published Thursday, June 17, 2010 | 6:26 p.m.
Updated Friday, June 18, 2010 | 9:03 a.m.
CARSON CITY – Nevada’s unemployment rate soared to a record 14 percent in May, giving it the dubious distinction of having the highest jobless rate in the nation.
The Las Vegas area recorded a 14.1 percent rate of unemployment, the 17th straight month of double-digit figures. But the Las Vegas rate actually dropped from 14.2 percent in April.
There were 138,100 people out of work in Southern Nevada, down from 140,000 in April.
The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said Nevada surpassed Michigan, whose rate fell from 14 to 13.6 percent. Michigan had the highest rate for 50 months.
The nation’s rate was 9.7 percent and California posted a 12.6 percent unemployment figure in May.
Nevada employers added 4,800 jobs in May, but most of the increase was seasonal or temporary census hiring, the agency said.
There were some positive signs in the Las Vegas area. Total employment rose to 980,500, up 1,300 workers from April. The casino and hotel business added 400 workers, putting the total in May at 154,500.
The construction business in the Las Vegas area showed some signs of improvement. There were 48,400 people employed in that sector, up 1,000 from the previous month. There had been a steady decline in construction industry employment for more than a year.
Manufacturing employment in Southern Nevada had 20,200 on the job, up 200 from April, while utilities, transportation and trade remained at 141,900 employed.
The state said, “In a somewhat alarming reversal of recent trends, the education and health services sector lost 1,500 jobs” statewide.
Most of the losses came from training providers in vocational and technical schools, and small private practice medical and dental offices, the agency said.
The total unemployment in Nevada stood at 189,300 people.
Unemployment in the Reno-Sparks area declined from 13.5 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May with 30,300 people looking for work. Carson City’s rate fell from 13.5 percent in April to 13.2 percent in May with 3,800 in search of a job.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement Thursday evening the jobless rate shows Nevada continues to struggle through the economic downturn.
"This increase in our unemployment rate only emphasizes the need to diversify our state’s economy and create jobs. Not every solution can come out of Washington but I am working every day to attract new businesses and industries to our state, including those that will put people to work by making Nevada the leader in developing clean energy. Through tax cuts for businesses and other incentives, we have prevented this bad situation from becoming even worse," Reid said. "New companies are coming to Nevada, but the reality is that there is still a lot more work to do before we dig ourselves out of this economic hole."