CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada's unemployment rate fell to 13 percent in November in the first drop since May, but the state's labor force continued to shrink as Nevada gained only 1,300 jobs last month, according to state employment data released Monday.
The statewide unemployment rate was 13.4 percent in October and 14.9 percent a year ago. Since then, the estimated number of jobless Nevadans has shrunk from 198,200 to 171,800.
Unemployment rates in Nevada's three metropolitan areas also dropped, according to Department of Employment, Training and
The unofficial unemployment rate, which includes the underemployed and unemployed people who have stopped looking for work, saw modest improvement, dropping from 23.7 earlier this year to 23.3 percent in November. The national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.
Nevadans aren't necessarily getting back to work. The labor force fell to 1.31 million in November, compared to 1.33 million a year ago. As a result, the participation rate reached a new low, dropping from 67.5 percent to 65.2 percent. That means fewer workers are able or want to find employment.
"It appears there has been some job growth, but it's not impressive job growth and it's not enough to put all these people back to work," said Elliott Parker, chairman of the economics department at the University of Nevada, Reno. "The best we can say is we have stopped sinking deeper."
Nevada has held the nation's highest unemployment rate for months, a consequence of the housing collapse that critically wounded the state's mighty construction and tourism industries in 2008. Hotel and casinos have seen some growth in recent months, but the construction industry is not expected to recover any time soon.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said Nevada's jobless rate is still unacceptably high, but shows a steady increase in hiring. State officials predict the number of Las Vegas visitors could soon reach prerecession levels.
"While the recovery remains fragile, it appears economic growth will come at a modest and steady pace," Sandoval said in a statement.
Unemployment in Las Vegas stands at 12.5 percent, down from 13.1
percent a month earlier and 14.9 percent a year ago. Carson City's
rate is 11.7 percent, down from 12 percent last month and 13.5 percent a year ago, and Reno's rate is 11.6 percent, down from 12.1 percent in October and 13.6 percent last year.
Most of the growth occurred in the retail trade. The hospitality, business services, computer manufacturing and health services industries were among those that saw losses last month. Construction and government employment remained the same as last year.
Stephen Brown, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the shrinking jobless rates indicate Nevada is slowly recovering.
"The first part of 2011 was still weak. It was really the second half of the year that we've seen the gains in employment," he said.
Blacks and Hispanics have been hit hardest by the downturn. Nearly 22 percent of blacks are unemployed, and 15 percent of the state's Hispanic population is out of work.
One region in Nevada has largely avoided the economic downturn. The unemployment rate in the rural Elko area fell to 6.6 percent in
November - two percentage points below the national average and more than five percentage points lower than the statewide rate.