Published Thursday, March 10, 2011 | 6:45 a.m.
Updated Thursday, March 10, 2011 | 6:56 a.m.
CARSON CITY – For the first time in five months, the unemployment rate dropped in Las Vegas below 14 percent, registering 13.7 percent in January.
The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported today there were an estimated 128,300 people out of work in the Las Vegas area, down from 144,200 in December.
Statewide, the unemployment rate fell from 14.9 percent in December to 14.2 percent in January, the department said.
In explaining the decline in unemployment, Bill Anderson, chief economist for the department, said “It appears some jobless Nevadans are becoming discouraged and giving up their search for work and dropping out of the labor market.
“In addition, given stagnant population levels, it is also likely that some Nevadans are leaving the state,” he said.
In the Las Vegas area, the number of construction jobs continued to decline. There were an estimated 39,000 on the job compared to 41,500 in December.
Employment also dropped in hotels and casinos by 0.3 percent. There were 155,200 workers in this segment, down from 157,100 in December in Las Vegas.
The department said manufacturing employment fell to 18,200, down 7.6 percent from December. Trade, transportation and utilities posted a 0.2 percent gain to 637,200 workers.
The Las Vegas jobless rate of 13.7 percent compares with a 15.1 percent jobless rate in December.
The Reno-Sparks area registered a 13.3 percent jobless rate compared to 13.8 percent in December. Carson City’s rate fell from 14 percent in December to 13.6 percent in January. The national unemployment rate was 9 percent.
Anderson said that statewide, an estimated 10,700 workers dropped out of the labor force.
But he said there were some indicators of an improved economy. Visitor statistics, gaming win and taxable sales exceeded expectations, he said.
Anderson said a recent surge in gas prices will undoubtedly affect travel to Nevada, while continued pressure on government payrolls will likely offset any near-term improvement in private sector hiring.
“It appears Nevada will continue to move sideways, bouncing along the trough of this recession for the foreseeable future,” he said.