Friday, March 26, 2010 | 6:49 a.m.
CARSON CITY – Unemployment in the Las Vegas area in February increased to 13.9 percent, the 14th consecutive month of double-digit joblessness in Southern Nevada.
But there was a positive sign, with job growth up by 7,400 workers.
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported today the state’s jobless rate grew from 13 percent in January to 13.2 percent in February with an estimated 189,000 unemployed.
The national jobless rate was 9.7 percent and California’s unemployment stood at 12.5 percent. Nevada has the nation's second-highest jobless rate, trailing only Michigan.
In the Las Vegas-Paradise area, the unemployment rate of 13.9 percent rose one-tenth of a percent from 13.8 percent in January. There were an estimated 137,500 people out of work, or about 1,600 more than in January.
Bill Anderson, an economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said employers in the state added 10,400 jobs in February over January, which was the first increase since October 2009.
He said 3,900 of those jobs came in state government, mostly attributed to spring hiring in the university and community college system. Leisure and hospitality gained 2,700 jobs statewide.
For the second month in a row the casino and hotel business in the Las Vegas area added workers. There were an estimated 152,500 workers in that area, or 1,300 more than in January. This was the highest number since last September, when there were also 152,500 in the industry.
Construction employment in Southern Nevada continued to decline, dropping 400 workers to 51,300 in February. Manufacturing reported 20,200 on the job, 100 less than in January. And utilities, transportation and trade had 140,800 employed in February in the Las Vegas area, a drop of 1,200 from January.
The department reported unemployment in Washoe County inched down from 13.5 percent in January to 13.4 percent in February. Carson City’s jobless rate also fell from 13.8 percent in January to 13.7 in February.
Anderson said Nevada has been hit hardest during the recession. From 2006 to 2009, the unemployment rate jumped by 7.5 percent, the most of any state. And he isn’t forecasting a rosy future.
“A number of national indicators show signs of economic improvement, though the prospects for rapid growth this year remain tenuous at best,” he said.
He said the longer it takes for the national economy to rebound, the longer it will take for Nevada’s leisure and hospitality-dependent economy to recover.
“Consumers are still in no mood to spend,” he said. “Worker are still uncertain about short-term prospects and are unlikely to spend on recreation and entertainment any time soon."