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ECONOMY:

Las Vegas jobless rate soars to record 13.4 percent

Updated Friday, Sept. 18, 2009 | 7:14 a.m.

CARSON CITY – The jobless rate in the Las Vegas area continued at a record pace in August with unemployment in the gaming and construction industries on the rise.

The department said the unemployment rate in the Las Vegas area reached 13.4 percent with an estimated 135,100 workers out of a job. That surpasses the record 13.1 percent set in July.

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 13.2 percent with an estimated 182,600 persons jobless.

“Taken as a whole, conditions have deteriorated markedly,” says William Anderson, chief economist for the state’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Anderson said that while there are signs of a national recovery “such positive conclusions cannot be drawn in Nevada, based on the current assessment of labor market and economic activity in the state.”

In the Las Vegas area, the number of workers in the construction industry fell to 73,400, down 1,000 from the previous month. Employment in the casino and hotel business dropped by 900 workers to 152,500 in August.

The department reported manufacturing jobs in the Las Vegas area fell by 300 to 23,500. And there was a decrease of 600 persons employed in the utilities, transportation and trade industries, totaling 153,300.

The department said the unemployment rates in Las Vegas and Reno were nearly double a year ago. The rate in Las Vegas was 7.1 percent in August 2008.

The jobless rate in the Reno area for August this year was 12.4 percent with 28,400 unemployed. Carson City’s rate was 12.1 percent with 3,700 jobless.

Anderson said, “There are certainly a number of factors accounting for the high unemployment rate in Southern Nevada compared to the north.”

The Las Vegas area “is more concentrated in those industries or sectors which have been impacted the most by the current recession,” he said. “For instance, as of August, 8.7 percent of all jobs in Southern Nevada were in the hard-hit construction sector, compared to 5.7 percent in the Reno metro area.”

He said the gaming and recreation sectors in the Las Vegas area have been harder hit than in Reno. “In the Las Vegas metro area, leisure and hospitality establishments account for nearly 30 percent of all jobs in the region.” In the Reno area, that percentage is 17.4 percent.

The department said on the jobs front, employers in the Las Vegas area reduced payrolls by 60,400 in August compared to a year ago. About two-thirds of these job losses were accounted for by construction, and leisure and hospitality establishments, the agency said.

Anderson said Nevada will benefit from a national recovery from the recession.

“However, if consumers attempt to regain lost ground by continuing to reign in discretionary spending, economic recovery may be delayed in Nevada,” he said. “The state’s long-term prospects, however, are more promising.”

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