RENO — In a sobering and worrisome sign for Nevada’s economy, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) reported the first rise in the state’s unemployment rate this year, up 0.3 percent to 12.4 percent in June, a national high.
In Reno-Sparks, the news is even worse. The area’s jobless rate spiked 1.2 percent last month to close at 13 percent, with a total of 400 jobs lost.
And as always seems to be the case, Las Vegas led the state’s decline as unemployment jumped to 13.8 percent, a 1.4 percent increase in June from May totals.
“An analysis of June labor market conditions suggests that recent weakness evident at the national level may be trickling into the Silver State,” Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR, said in a statement. “All things considered, Nevada’s job market is essentially flat.”
Continued contraction of public sector jobs reflects state and local austerity measures forced by shrinking tax revenue, the DETR report concludes.
Year-over-year tallies show state and local government shed 3,600 jobs, a 2.7 percent cut to payroll. Almost 90 percent of the reduction was in local government jobs.
On the other hand, the private sector added 2,500 jobs over the year, driven largely by 8,600 new jobs in the accommodation and food services sector and 6,600 new jobs in the administrative support and waste management sector.
“Not everything in the report is doom and gloom, though,” Anderson said. “The administrative and support and waste management and remediation services sector, which includes temporary hiring agencies, added 1,900 jobs (in June).”
But construction continues to hold back overall job growth.
In June, the industry employed 5,400 fewer workers than it did one year ago.
In Reno-Sparks, construction jobs actually increased last month — as did leisure and hospitality jobs — but these regional gains were offset by local layoffs in government, trade, and education and health services industries.
“While I am disappointed that our state’s jobless rate has risen slightly in the month of June, I am confident in Nevada’s resiliency,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. “We are in a stronger position this month than we were at this time last year.”
Nevada’s newest U.S. Senator, Republican Dean Heller, directed his remarks at Democrats.
“President Obama can’t talk his way out of the troubling fact that Nevada’s unemployment rate is growing,” he said in a statement. “The policies of this administration are making our economy worse and Nevadans are feeling the pain. Throwing money at the problems through big-government interventions and programs clearly does not work.”
Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid fired back.
“After five months of decreasing unemployment in Nevada, today’s report is disappointing and a clear indication that job creation must continue to be the top priority,” he said. “Unfortunately, Republicans in Washington have their priorities upside down, supporting the so-called ‘Cut, Cap and Balance Act’ that not only kills Medicare and undermines Social Security, but will destroy nearly one million jobs nationwide. We need to work together to create good paying jobs in the state …”