Nevada Unemployment Rises to 4.6 Percent in May

Nevada's unemployment rate edged above the national average for the first time in five years in May.

The rate was pressured by a housing slump, the closure of some aging Las Vegas casinos and a statewide smoking ban, according to the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points from a year ago to 4.6 percent in May, while the national average was 4.5 percent.

The last time Nevada's jobless rate was higher than the national average was in March 2002.

The state jobless rate was also 0.2 percentage points higher than in April.

Department director Terry Johnson says people are continuing to move to Nevada at a tremendous pace but jobs have not grown as quickly as in the past.

He says the continuing decline in the sale of new and existing homes was one of the leading causes of the rising jobless rate.

Casino jobs also fell 1.4 percent from a year ago partly because of the closure of the Stardust casino-hotel and the pending closure of the New Frontier in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, no new major properties have opened since the Red Rock casino-hotel in April 2006.

The department also said the number of unemployment claims made by food preparation and food service workers has increased 58 percent since the beginning of the year.

It said that may be do to a higher state minimum wage since November and a smoking ban that has reduced traffic at some taverns.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)