Though July’s numbers showed modest growth in private industry jobs, hardest-hit construction trades and public sector jobs continued to offset the modest growth.
The slight upturn in numbers is the first sign of improvement since August of last year.
“It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from these conflicting trends, but we see little in these results to change our outlook for continued moderate improvement in the state’s labor market looking forward,” according to the report by Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
“Some months will likely bring encouraging news, while other months will result in retreat, but the overall trend is one of slow recovery.”
July’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is up 0.4 percentage points from June but down from last July’s 13.8 percent figure. Still, Nevada’s rate remains the highest in the nation, a distinction it has held since May 2010. The national rate in July was 8.3 percent.
Nevada had the highest pre-recession job-growth rate from 2003 to 2005, as well as the country’s worst job loss from 2009 to 2010.
Reno’s rate was 12 percent and Carson City’s was 12.2 percent. Those numbers aren’t directly comparable to the statewide rate because they’re not seasonally adjusted.
For comparison, the statewide unadjusted jobless rate was 12.5 percent.
The report said Las Vegas added 1,900 seasonally adjusted jobs from June and 8,700 from a year ago.
Carson City, the state’s capital, added just 100 jobs during the month, while Reno lost 1,200 jobs and remains 1,400 below July 2011 levels.
Statewide, Nevada added 2,100 jobs in July when adjusted for seasonal changes, but 163,700 people remained out of work. That number includes only people who have actively sought work in the past four weeks.
However, the numbers change dramatically if statisticians count those who live in Nevada who can work, but have simply given up.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Nevada’s jobless rate at 22 percent when people who’ve given up looking for work or those who are involuntarily working part-time are factored.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is working to restructure the state’s economic environment with his new economic recovery plan that called for creating 50,000 new jobs in the state in the next few years, said in a statement that the new numbers show the importance of diversifying the economy.
“I am pleased that job growth continued for a 13th consecutive month, but against the backdrop of a weak national economy not all the news was good,” Sandoval said. “As part of Nevada’s slow recovery, our state experienced a slight uptick in unemployment in July, as occurred in the country as a whole.”
The governor said the slight growth is evidence that the state must continue to develop business efforts and attract new companies and support the expansion of existing companies to get more Nevadans back to work.
In what could amount to a setback, Sandoval’s Chief of Staff, Heidi Gansert, resigned Thursday in a surprise announcement. Gansert left after just two years. Her departure came a month after the governor’s top adviser, Dale Erquiaga, left in July.
Both left just prior to the governor’s preparation of his proposed biennial budget and legislative agenda ahead of the opening of the next Nevada Legislature.
Gerald Gardner, was named on Friday as Sandoval’s new Chief of Staff.
The jobless report showed Nevada’s leisure and hospitality sector — dominated by casino industry jobs — continues to be the driving force behind job growth. The sector added 1,200 in July over the previous month and 5,100 jobs over the past year.
Trade, transportation and utility firms added 1,100 jobs during the month, while financial activities added 800. But the report said the state lost 1,300 construction jobs during the same time and 500 jobs in the professional business services categories.
Government jobs fell by 5,400 from June, though many of those losses are tied to summer breaks in schools.
On the flip side, Nevada’s mining industry continues to thrive, adding 100 jobs in the month and 2,200 in the past year. It now employs a record 16,300 people. Educational and health services also reached a record employment level in July at 107,700, the report said.
The director of the Department of Health and Human Services could not be reached on Friday to weigh in on the report.
U.S. Senator Dean Heller, R-NV, issued a statement regarding the unemployment figures released Friday, saying the stagnant economy is further proof that the policies coming from Washington are failing.
“The President’s healthcare law, stimulus, and constant threat of tax increases have stifled economic growth and job creation,” Heller said. “Nevadans have waited far too long for the President and Congress to deliver solutions — solutions that will create certainty for both individuals and businesses.”
His opponent, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley said, in a statement Friday, that the numbers reflected “yet another example of why Washington politicians like Sen. Dean Heller, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney should be more focused on creating jobs rather than implementing their plan to end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies.”
“Unfortunately, instead of joining me in the fight to cut taxes for small businesses and middle-class families, crack down on unfair trade policies cheating American workers out of thousands of jobs and work to make Nevada the clean energy jobs capital of America,” she said.