CARSON CITY (AP) — Nevada’s unemployment rate climbed to 12.9 percent in July, marking the second straight month the figure has increased, state officials said Friday.
The July figure is a jump from 12.4 percent in June but was still lower than the 14.9 percent number in July 2010.
“Most of the decline was the result of a declining labor force coupled with flat employment trends,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the state Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation.
He noted the increased unemployment rate came in the wake of a much publicized decline seen in the first five months of the year.
Elliott Parker, an economist at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the latest jobless report offered little insight into the direction of Nevada’s economy.
“There have been so many bumps on the road to this economy recovery that it appears we have strayed off-road,” he said. “Still, I would hesitate before drawing any firm conclusions.”
Parker said it will take a couple more months to determine any real economic trends in the state.
More than 169,000 people were out of work in July in Nevada, which continues to lead the nation in joblessness, bankruptcies and foreclosures. The national jobless rate in July was 9.1 percent.
In the Las Vegas area, home to 70 percent of the state’s population, the jobless rate rose for the fourth consecutive month to 14 percent, up from 13.8 percent in June. In July 2010, unemployment in Las Vegas was 15.7 percent.
Elsewhere, unemployment held steady in the Reno-Sparks area at around 13 percent. In Carson City, it rose 0.1 percentage point to 12.6 percent.
Anderson said non-farm payrolls shed 8,800 jobs between June and July, in spite of growth in taxable sales, tourist volume and casino winnings.
Jobs and the economy are a central issue in Nevada’s upcoming special U.S. House election and the 2012 Senate race between Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.
Friday’s report brought a barrage of partisan press releases blaming the opposing party or candidate for the economy’s malaise.
Heller blamed the policies of the Obama administration and oppressive regulations
“Nevadans need this administration to stop pushing policies that stifle job growth and impede economic recovery,” he said in a statement that also called for tax reform.
Berkley, who is on a “focus on jobs” campaign tour, advocated investing in clean energy, providing incentives to small businesses to create jobs and closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas.
“While I focus on jobs, some in Washington have their priorities upside down,” she said. “They seem more interested in cutting Medicare to protect tax giveaways to oil companies. That is unacceptable and wrong.”
State Treasurer Kate Marshall, a Democrat who faces Republican Mark Amodei in a Sept. 13 special election to fill Nevada’s vacant 2nd Congressional District seat, touted a bill she sponsored in the 2011 Legislature that allows the state to invest in companies that relocate or expand in Nevada.
“I’m fed up with Washington’s lack of focus on jobs, but more importantly Nevadans are fed up and should be,” she said in a statement.
Amodei, through a campaign spokesman, blamed Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., while taking aim at Marshall.
“Kate Marshall will simply be a sycophant who will fall in line with the tax and spend culture of Washington, and Nevada can’t afford another Harry Reid clone in Congress,” Peter DeMarco, communications director for the Amodei campaign, said in an email.