CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada's unemployment rate fell to 12
percent in March from 12.3 percent in February, the state
employment agency said Friday, but the drop is not solely about job
creation in a state that has led the nation in unemployment for
nearly two years.
"Unfortunately, most of the decline was attributed to erosion
in the labor force, as opposed to outright improvement," said Bill
Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. "The drop is partly due to
discouraged workers who have simply given up looking for work."
About 163,000 Nevadans remained unemployed in March, down from
168,000 the previous month, the report said. But the total labor
force also contracted by about 6,000.
Still, Anderson noted that the labor market is showing some
positive signs of recovery, with most regions of the state
reporting improved jobless rates.
He said the state added a seasonally adjusted 5,000 jobs from
month to month, which is more than expected.
In Las Vegas, the unemployment rate fell to 12.1 percent, down
0.1 percentage point from February.
Northern Nevada also posted slight drops. Reno's jobless rate
was 12 percent, down from 12.2 percent, and Carson City's rate fell
to 12.4 percent from 12.6 percent.
Only Las Vegas, the state's population hub and economic engine,
has gained jobs on a year-over-year basis, reporting 2,100 more
jobs last month than in March 2011. In contrast, there are 1,400
fewer jobs in the Reno-Sparks area and 1,000 fewer jobs in Carson
City compared with the same month last year.
Nevada's construction industry, which was hammered when the
state's once booming house market imploded, continues to struggle.
The industry lost 900 jobs in March, the report said.
After peaking at a record 14.9 percent in December 2010,
Nevada's unemployment rate has been slowly receding, despite some monthly hiccups. It held steady at 13.4 percent in August through October 2011 before inching down to its current 12 percent mark.
But the state's jobless remains significantly higher than the
national rate of 8.2 percent, and is more than a percentage point
above California's 10.9 percent.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has made economic development and job
creation a cornerstone of his administration, said he was pleased
by Friday's report. Sandoval earlier this year set a goal to create
50,000 jobs by the end of his first term in 2014.
"The declining unemployment rate, together with signs that
state revenues continue to perform at better-than-expected levels,
indicate that Nevada is making a steady comeback," Sandoval said.
Anderson said while employment growth in the near term will be
slow to moderate, long-term job growth should pick up as long as
the national economy improves.
"For the state's modestly improving labor market to continue to
strengthen, underlying fundamentals in the U.S. economy must be
favorable," Anderson said. "Recent evidence does point to
improvements in the national labor market, despite month-to-month