Nevada's jobless numbers for February have been released and, for the most part, the news is good. The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation is reporting the lowest unemployment rate for the state since December, 2008. Overall the state's unemployment rate is now 9.6&, which is down 2.2% from a year ago.
Elko has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.8%, followed by Las Vegas at 9.58% The Reno-Sparks area is a little hire than the state average at 10.1%. That's similar to Carson City with a 10.7% unemployment rate. It's clearly an improvement, but what does it mean for our overall economy?
"We're up in excess of 20,000 private sector jobs versus where we were a year ago," says DETR's Chief Economist, Bill Anderson is encouraged by a continuing pattern of job growth in the Silver State. He says at the height of the recession Nevada led the nation in jobless claims, peaking at 14% unemployment. He expects the job market to continues to improve, with a projected annual growth rate of 2%. "We're seeing more diversified growth than we have in the past," he says "so certainly leisure and hospitality remains a major player in terms of our economy in terms of job growth, but were also seeing signs of growth in other industries, in trade, transportation, utilities." The construction industry, a major employer, is also beginning to rebound in our area.
Some say the current numbers are deceiving, because unemployment claims don't include those who's benefits have ended, or who've given up on the job search. Anderson says they haven't been left out of the figures, saying that group of about 15,000 people account for an uptick of nearly 1% in the unemployment rate. While the overall picture is improving, he says there are still about 131,000 Nevadans looking for work.