What Life is Really Like for Many Las Vegans Living Through the Great Recession

Although it's now a year old, this is one of the most powerful and accurate portrayals I've seen to-date about what life is like today for many Las Vegans living through the Great Recession.

Jobless rate falls, but Nevada still most unemployed state in October - for 6th consecutive month

While Nevada and other U.S. states' and regions' unemployment rates dropped in October, the Silver State still has the dubious ranking as number one in unemployment per capita in the country.

It was the sixth consecutive month the state led unemployment among in the United States. The states with the next highest jobless rates were Michigan, at 12.8%, and California, 12.4%, The New York Times reported.

And another national publication has recognized the difficulty of finding work in Sin City. Forbes.com has ranked Las Vegas the worst U.S. city for finding a job.

The hiring environment may be improving, but job seekers in cities that rely on strong economy-reliant industries should know that they may each be competing with six, seven or eight other idle workers for one advertised job, Forbes.com reported.

In arriving at its rankings, Forbes relied on figures from Juju.com, a site that aggregates job listings to arrive at its monthly Job Search Difficulty Index, which measures how tough it is to find employment in 50 major cities around the country.

"The cities that have continued to underperform rely on jobs from lagging industries such as manufacturing, tourism and construction," Juju vice president Brendan Cruickshank told Forbes.com. "Detroit and Las Vegas have improved from this time last year, but they continue have more unemployed individuals per open job than other large metropolitan areas."

Sunbelt cities like Las Vegas dominate the list of the most difficult metro areas for finding a job. Large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans continue to suffer as their tourism remains weak.

Although things are still tough in some areas, nationally things have improved, according to the report. "If you look back to November 2009, the average number of unemployed people per job posting was 6.5. This year it is 3.19," Cruickshank said. "This indicates that the market has gotten significantly better."

Nevada's Unemployment Rate Falls for First Time in Five Years

Nevada's jobless rate has fallen for the first time in five years, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported this morning.

Joblessness decreased two-tenths of a point, to 14.2% in October over September, the DETR announced in a statement. The improvement was even more pronounced in Las Vegas, where unemployment fell from 15% in September to 14.1% last month.

"This is a clear sign that the recession's grip on Nevada may finally be loosening," DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson said in the statement. "The number of jobs being eliminated is stabilizing, but there is no sign of major job growth on the horizon. While the decline in the rate is immediate good news, there is still a long road ahead to completely recover from the devastating effects of the recession."

The U.S. unemployment rate in October was 9.6%.  
The last time the jobless rate declined was in December 2005, when the local economy was booming and unemployment decreased to 4.2%. Since then, the Great Recession has devastated Nevada's tourism and construction industries, and the state has led the nation in joblessness, bankruptcies and foreclosures. In total, 181,600 Nevadans, and 135,000 Las Vegas Valley residents were without work in October.

Republican-controlled Congress more intent on tax cuts than jobless benefits extension

Jobless benefits will run out for 2 million Americans during the holiday season unless they are renewed by a Congress that's focusing more attention on a quarrel over preserving tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year.

It's looking iffy at best whether Congress will renew jobless benefits averaging $310 per week nationwide that are presently claimed by almost 5 million people who have been out of work for more than six months.

An extension of jobless benefits enacted this summer expires Dec. 1, and on Thursday, a bill to extend them for three months failed in the House. Democrats brought the bill to the floor, but Republicans opposed the legislation because they were denied a chance to attach spending cuts.

Still, the looming expiration of unemployment benefits could put Republicans on the defensive since they'll expire just as debate peaks in the lame-duck session over whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts on individuals with income exceeding $200,000 or for couples making more than $250,000. The tax cuts expire Dec. 31, and Democrats oppose permanently extending the upper-bracket tax cuts, which would cost about $700 billion over 10 years. "I don't think we want to leave here having fought for tax cuts for millionaires and against unemployment insurance for those that have lost their jobs," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Every recession since 1950 has featured an extended federal benefits program financed with deficit dollars. Allowing benefits to expire in the holiday season may draw negative attention to Republicans, especially when measured against their insistence on renewing tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers.

Today's Titans of Industry Should Follow Henry Ford's Lead

Drawing on the success Model T creator Henry Ford enjoyed when he doubled his factory workers' pay to $5 a day in 1914, a Harvard Business Review contributing editor is recommending that American companies do the same today.

Well, maybe not double workers' pay, but at least share with them some of the record-breaking profits companies have enjoyed as they downsized millions of American during the Great Recession.

"This is relevant now because we're dealing with a new crisis in consumer demand," John Landry writes in an HBR blog post titled "Time for a New Five-Dollar Day. "As many have pointed out, average pay in the United States has been stagnant or declining for decades." And now, "from households to governments, everyone has big debts to pay off, so it's going to be hard to emerge from the recession.

"Everyone, that is, except companies. The flip side of stagnant worker pay has been above-average corporate profits. All the talk about highly competitive markets has hidden the fact that most companies have done quite well in the past two decades."

Landry said the recent election of more Republicans will mean even less regulation and fewer taxes for businesses, another reason they should share their largesse. Because the problem isn't with businesses, "It's with consumers" who are hurting so badly financially that they can't buy many companies' products, Landry concludes.

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Washington, D.C. Easiest Place to Get a Job, Las Vegas Most Difficult, Index Finds

The job-to-worker ratio is almost perfectly balanced in Washington, D.C., at 1.11:1, making it least difficult U.S. city in which to find a job, while in the nation's worst job market, Las Vegas, almost nine job seekers are vying for every open position.

That's acccording to the monthly Job Search Difficulty Index by job search engine JuJu.com, which measures the difficulty of finding employment in major cities around the country.

Las Vegas dropped below Miami in the November index, taking the 50th - or dead last - last spot previously held by Miami.

The Index was calculated by dividing the number of unemployed workers in each metro area, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by the number of jobs in Juju's index of millions of online jobs in the United States, which is includes job postings from thousands of employer career portals, recruiter websites and job boards.

BusinessInsider.com has taken Juju.com's stats to create a slide show of the 10 Worst Cities for Finding a Job.

Economic stress eases in all but six states, including Nevada, AP finds

The nation's economic stress fell in September to a 16-month low, and 80% of the nation's 3,141 counties saw some relief from the Great Recession's economic pain, but six states - including my home state of Nevada saw conditions worsen, according to AP's monthly Economic Stress Index.

Nevada again was the most stressed, with a score of 21.93. California with 16.15., Florida with 15.86, Michigan with 15.76 and Arizona with 14.9 rounded out the top five.

Among counties, the Top 10 are dominated by those in Nevada, California, Florida and Arizona. Las Vegas' Clark County was 6th, with a stress index of 23.5.

The AP's index calculates a score for each county and state, from 1 to 100, based on unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. A higher score indicates more economic stress. Under a rough rule of thumb, a county is considered stressed when its score exceeds 11.

The average county's Stress score in September was 10, down from 10.3 in August. The last time the average was that low was in May 2009. Just more than one-third of counties were deemed stressed in September, down from 40% in August.

North Dakota remained the economically healthiest state with a score of 3.75. Next came South Dakota (4.78), Nebraska (5.73) and Vermont (5.89). New Hampshire leapfrogged over Wyoming for the No. 5 spot with a score of 6.79.

A glaring exception to lower distress in much of the country was Nevada. It led the nation in September unemployment with a 14.4% rate and also was No. 1 in foreclosures; 6% of homes there were in some stage of the foreclosure process. In addition, Nevada was the leader in bankruptcy filings, too, with nearly 3% of the population in the bankruptcy process.

Still, some hints suggest the worst is nearing an end in Nevada. Gaming revenue has enjoyed a small upswing. And while Nevada's housing market shows no signs of picking up, prices are starting to stabilize, Stephen Brown, an economist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told the AP.

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Great Recession Does What Little Else Could Do to Nevada: It Reverses Population Growth

Fear and Loathing really has come to Las Vegas - 
at least in the economy
It took the country's worst natural and man-made disaster to decimate Louisiana's population in the same way the Great Recession has ravaged Nevada's.

The nation's fastest-growing state for 19 consecutive years until 2006, Nevada will see its population drop an estimated 70,000, or 2.6% this year, to 2.64 million, Nevada's state demographer predicts. It would be the largest annual drop for a state since thousands of Louisiana residents were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, slicing that state's population 5.7% to 4.2 million in 2006, USA Today reports.

"The major loss (in Nevada) is happening between now and 2013," Jeff Hardcastle, state demographer at the University of Nevada-Reno, told the newspaper. "In a state that has two main industries — gaming and construction — people realize we're not in a good situation."

Driving this population exodus is Nevada's dubious #1 rankings in foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and unemployment. One out of every 29 housing units received a foreclosure filing in the third quarter of this year — almost five times the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Nevada's unemployment rate is 14.4% compared with 9.6% nationwide, while Las Vegas' 15% jobless rate has topped the country for five consecutive months.

Economic diversification tops the state's agenda,  Robert, Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, told the newspaper. "It's a signal for a shift in the Sun Belt. Reliance on growth due to in-migration is, in the short-term, not sustainable."

Oops, it did it again: Las Vegas Tops in the Country in Unemployment

Of the 49 U.S. metropolitan areas with a  population of 1 million or more, Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., registered the nation's highest unemployment rates in September - 15.0% - the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. It was the fifth consecutive month that the region held the grim distinction, and there is little sign of near-term improvement.

Nevada last month disclosed the 15% jobless rate - which was a record breaker within the state - but it wasn't confirmed until today that that Las Vegas area is still plagued with the highest percentage of unemployed residents in the country.

Click this link to read the BLS' complete statement on Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment - September 2010.

Las Vegas September Unemployment Climbs to Historic High of 15%

Unemployment in my hometown of Las Vegas jumped to 15% in September, setting a new, all-time high for Nevada's largest labor market and likely maintaining the city's spot as the nation's most unemployed city.

The Las Vegas jobless rate grew three-tenths of a percentage point in September over August, while the state's rate remained steady at 14.4%, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) reporting early this morning. On a more positive note, it was the first time since January that the state rate did not increase, and only the second time the rate did not grow since the Great Recession began.

Unemployment rates in each of Nevada's metropolitan areas increased from August to September. (Unemployment rates for the state’s metropolitan areas are not adjusted for seasonality. For comparison purposes, the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate was 14.5% in September, up from 14.2% in August.) 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the September's metropolitan Area unemployment figures Wednesday, Nov. 3, at which time it will be known if Las Vegas has retained its dubious #1 ranking in unemployment among the nation's major cities.

"Recently released employment projections show considerable job loss through 2011," DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson said in a statement. "In 2012, job loss will subside significantly, but a weak economic climate will keep outright growth in check."

The state doesn't expect broad employment growth until 2013, and "even then, expectations are for weak employment growth at best," Anderson continued. "The recovery will most certainly differ from typical rebounds, but this recession has been anything but typical. Following recent recessions, Nevada’s economy boomed, driven by new growth and construction. Given its current state of high home foreclosures, falling prices and weak demand for new commercial development, new construction will not stimulate growth across the broader economy anytime soon."

The biggest job losers continue to be those most affected by the recession: leisure and hospitality and construction. Federal government employment continues to decline as the 2010 centennial census winds down. Employment in Nevada’s trade sectors remained flat, but with the holiday hiring season just around the corner, employers should start adding jobs over the next couple of months.

In recent months, unemployment growth has begun to subside, suggesting that the labor market may finally be bottoming out, Anderson said, while also noting that at the national level, personal income has increased nearly every month this year.

“The question is: when and by how much will income growth translate to improvements in Nevada’s tourism-based economy?” Anderson asked. “That translation has a lot to do with consumers’ willingness and ability to pay for a trip to Nevada. While it’s still early, we may be seeing some tentative signs of improvement."

For example, visitation to Las Vegas increased nearly every month in the last year, he said. Also, in recent months, both taxable sales and gaming win recorded sizable year-over- year gains.

A few hours after the state released its figures, the BLS reported that employers undertook 1,486 mass layoffs affecting 133,379 workers in September. Despite the alarming-sounding news, layoffs decreased for the third consecutive month, while associated initial claims decreased to their lowest level since April 2008.

More Depressing Foreclosure Factoids

Brought to us by our friends at TheFinancialBrand.com:

Goldman Sachs Ads "Don't Address Jack"

Brought to my attention by TheFinancialBrand.com, Goldman Sachs has launched a new Young & Rubicam-created ad campaign designed to improve Goldman's Rolling Stone magazine-decreed bruised and battered "Vampire Squid" image. Ad #1 from the campaign, slated to run into next year:

As TheFinancialBrand.com declares, "This campaign doesn’t address jack. In the court of public opinion, Goldman Sachs stands accused of financial crimes against humanity, and this is their public response? This is the exact same mistake Swiss banking behemoth UBS made last month with its 'We Will Not Rest' ad campaign: When you’ve destroyed people’s trust, the last thing they want to hear is a bunch of bromides and mushy, corporate rhetoric."

Related reports:

Las Vegas August Unemployment Falls Slightly to 14.7%

The number of Las Vegans out of work for the month of August fell one-tenth of 1 percent, to 14.7%, while Nevada's rate climbed by the same ratio, to 14.4%, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported this morning.

The rate represents 192,000 people out of work in the state with 142,000 of them in the Las Vegas area. More than 10,000 workers left the labor force to either seek employment out of state or became too discouraged to look for work, said Bill Anderson, the DETR's chief economist. “The hot summer days of August did little to stimulate Nevada’s economic fortunes,” he added. “Readings of key labor market indicators continue to show moderating losses."

Nationally, the unemployment rate stood at 9.6% in August.

FOX News Seeking Chief White House Correspondent Who "Thinks Less and Talks More"

FOX News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett is leaving the network for a job the National Journal, saying he wants to "think more and talk less."

See Comedy Central Stephen Colbert's take on this development in the video clip below.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Fox News Job Opening
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Joblessness & the Great Recession: A Scary, Scary Time-Lapse Digital Graphic, 2007-Present

This is both educational and very, very frightening: a time-lapse digital graphic of a map of the United States as unemployment and underemployment – devastating almost 31 million Americans and counting – sweeps the country, from January 2007 through today.

Las Vegas' jobless rate up to 14.8%, expected to again make it America's most unemployed metro area

Las Vegas’ July jobless rate increased two-tenths of a point, to 14.8%, likely ensuring it will again have the highest unemployment rate of major U.S. cities when national figures are released later this month.

The “real” unemployment rate, which also includes unemployed residents no longer actively seeking work, however, is 21.5%, the state’s Department of Employment, Training and Development announced this morning, which means more than one out of every five Nevadans is jobless.

The state’s July jobless rate ticked up one-tenth, to 14.3%. It is the smallest one-month increase of the year, but marks the 16th consecutive month the rate increased to a new record high. Given that Michigan announced a slight decrease in its jobless rate Thursday, it’s also likely Nevada will continue to have the country’s highest statewide unemployment rate.

"Weakness in Nevada’s job markets persists, with both the public and private sectors reporting less employment over the month," according to the statement. “Particularly troubling is the continued contraction of the employment services industry,” which supplies temporary workers to expanding businesses. “Growing demand for temporary workers is usually a precursor for future permanent hiring." The drop in July means “expectations for future hiring remain weak.”

Regarding the unofficial unemployment rate – which the state calculated and included in today’s announcement for the first time – “the reality of the recession’s impacts on Nevada’s workforce is much worse than presented” in the official rate.

Fading consumer confidence at odds with growing corporate profits fueled by layoffs and cost-cutting

“You can’t cut your way to prosperity,” according to an old business adage.

But during the Great Recession, corporate America is sure gonna try.

Americans' confidence in the economy faded further in July, according a Conference Board survey released earlier this week, amid job worries and flat wages. But don’t tell that to Big Business, which has enjoyed a recent rally fueled by upbeat earnings reports fueled by layoffs and overseas sales. And despite improved balance sheets and robust stock prices, few companies are rehiring any of the millions of Americans they’ve laid off in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Companies "have the wherewithal to do whatever they want -- hire; make new investments; raise dividends; do mergers and acquisitions," S&P's Howard Silverblatt told Washington Post Writer's Group columnist Robert Samuelson. "Historically, higher profits lead to higher employment," said Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com

But "so far, history be damned," Samuelson wrote. "The contrast between revived profits and stunted job growth is stunning. From late 2007 to late 2009, payroll employment dropped nearly 8.4 million. Since then, the economy has recovered a scant 11% of those lost jobs. Companies are doing much better than workers; that defines today's economy." (Read more of Samuelson's thoughts on growing corporate profits and rising unemployment.)

The Consumer Confidence Index registered 50.4 in July, a steeper-than-expected drop from the revised 54.3 in June, according to the Conference Board poll. The decline follows last month's decline of nearly 10 points, and is the lowest point since February. A healthy economy registers 90 or higher – but that’s a level not seen since the recession began in December 2007.

"Consumers have a much different view of the economy than the stock market does, and their views matter more to the economy," Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner told the Associated Press.

"A rapid, sustainable recovery can't happen without the American consumer. Economists closely watch confidence because consumer spending accounts for about 70% of U.S. economic activity, and is necessary for a robust economic recovery.

"Businesses can't cost cut their way to consistent profit growth," Zandi told Samuelson. "Eventually, they need to generate revenue growth that requires investment and hiring.

"Fatter profits have shown that companies have squeezed higher productivity out of remaining workers, but that also means that "households are not benefiting," Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, also told the AP. “The profit picture is "good news for Wall Street, but not good for workers."

It's official: Las Vegas' Unemployment Rate in June Highest Among Major U.S. Cities

In a #1 ranking no one wants, the Las Vegas Valley topped major U.S. metro regions in unemployment for the second consecutive month, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released this morning.
Of the 49 metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more, Las Vegas topped the list at 14.5%, the BLS said.

Unemployment rates were lower in June than a year earlier in more than half of the 372 metropolitan areas the bureau ranks. A dozen areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15% percent, while 6 areas registered rates below 5.0%. The national unemployment rate in June was 9.6%, not seasonally adjusted, compared with 9.7% a year earlier.

El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., again recorded the highest unemployment rates, 27.6 and 26.4%, respectively. 

Las Vegas was narrowly surpassed by Yuma as the area that registered the largest over-the-year jobless rate increase in June. Yuma's increased 2.9 percentage points, while Las Vegas' was up 2.1 percentage points.

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Once booming Nevada, California and Florida move to end of the line, according to new economic study

A homeless man in downtown Las Vegas.
Three states that only five years enjoyed historic booms that put them near the top of many national economic rankings - Nevada, California, and Florida - now have the country's weakest economies, according to a midyear review of by business website Portfolio.com and national business periodical publisher bizjournals.

The half-decade has been particularly devastating to my home state of Nevada, which finished #1 in the business publications' mid-year review in 2005, but now is dead last. Its results were only about one-half a percentage point worse than California, which was 11th in 2005, and finished 50th this year. (The District of Columbia is included in the rankings.) Florida was second five years ago and is 49th this year.

Several factors sent all three states to the back of the line, primarily their boom-and-bust real estate sector and dramatic declines in tourism that's been driven by the global Great Recession.

Empty Florida beach chairs
Nevada, California, and Florida have collectively lost 1.69 million jobs since 2005 - or the equivalent of 926 jobs A DAY. All are struggling with double-digit jobless rates. The Silver State again is the worst; its June unemployment rate was 14.2% and the jobless rate of its most-populous city, Las Vegas, was 14.5%. Both were records, and federal figures slated to be released tomorrow will show whether Las Vegas has the worst unemployment among major U.S. cities for the second consecutive month.

Portfolio.com and bizjournals rely on a nine-part formula to analyze state employment trends. It uses U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data over the latest five-year period and zeroes in on raw and percentage changes in private-sector employment, as well as unemployment rates.

Forty states had fewer jobs in May 2010 than five years earlier. The nation lost a total of 4.51 million private-sector positions between mid-2005 and mid-2010.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The middle of the country and the Northeast have fared best during the Great Recession. Seven of the 10 strongest states gained a total of 485,600 jobs. Their collective unemployment rate was 7.9%, as of May.

The 10 states at the bottom of the standings faced an overall unemployment rate of 11.8% in May. They collectively lost 3.12 million jobs during the five years, or 1,710 jobs A DAY.

For the complete ranking, click here.

Unemployment benefits extended to 99 weeks for jobless Americans

President Barack Obama yesterday signed the bill that extends unemployment benefits for more than 2.5 million jobless Americans. The legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 272-152 earlier in the day.

The bill extends the cut-off for benefits from June 2 to Nov. 30, and unemployed citizens will continue to receive payments for 73 weeks after that, for a total of 99 weeks of unemployment benefit. The new law works in concert with Home Affordable Unemployment Program, which gives qualified homeowners the ability to borrow up to $50,000 to assist them with their mortgage, provided that they have a reasonable prospect of resuming payments within two years.

In states like Pennsylvania and New York, the back payments should go out next week, officials said. In others, like Nevada and North Carolina, it may take a few weeks for all of those eligible to receive benefits.

Thirty-one House Republicans, about one in six, voted for the measure Thursday, while 10 Democrats opposed it. In my home state of Nevada - which had the highest jobless rate in the nation in June, at 14.2%, for the second consecutive month. The Nevada Congressional delegation's support of the measure was unanimous when Republican Congressman Dean Heller crossed party lines and joined Las Vegas-area Congressional Democrats Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley in voting for the measure. Heller was unsuccessful in a bid to introduce an amendment that would have tapped unused economic stimulus funds to pay for the extension. Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign was the only state official to oppose the measure, in the Senate's earlier vote.

Even with an extension to 99 weeks for most unemployed Americans, will it be enough? U.S. economist Lawrence Souza told HousingWire that the current state of unemployment is not going to be solved overnight. "It will be 2015 when full employment is achieved at 95 to 96% of the workforce," he said.

The estimated cost surrounding the legislation is $34 billion, one reason some in Congress were hesitant to vote it through. But Obama argued that the bill had to be funded via deficit spending because it was an emergency measure to protect 9.5% of the United States' population.
For more information about the bill, click here.

Dubious Distinction Confirmed: Nevada is again #1 in Nation in Unemployment in June 2010

It didn't come as much of a surprise to state labor economists, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today confirmed that Nevada reported the highest unemployment rate in the country for the second consecutive month, 14.2% in June. The Silver State also recorded the largest jobless rate increase from June 2009, up 2.3 percentage points.

Although Las Vegas’ June rate again surpassed Michigan’s – which before May, had the nation’s highest jobless rate - it won’t be clear whether Sin City again will be #1 in U.S. unemployment among U.S. states and major cities until the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics releases its metropolitan-area unemployment data July 28. 
However, in an email interview yesterday, Jered McDonald, an economist with the Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation, said in an email interview with Examiner.com, “I can tell you, though, that in May, Las Vegas had the highest unemployment rate among the nation's largest metro areas,” he added. “With an increase of four-tenths [of a percent,] to 14.5% in June, Las Vegas will be right up there again.”

In total, 25 states posted jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 9.5%, 10 states had measurably higher rates, and 15 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

The five other states with the next highest rates were Michigan, 13.2%; California, 12.3%; and Rhode Island, 12.0%.

Jobless Benefits Extension Overcomes Critical Senate Obstacle

With exactly the minimum votes needed to overcome the fourth Republican attempt to block a federally financed extension of unemployment benefits, Senate Democrats this afternoon advanced a House bill that will restore the cash payments to millions of jobless Americans.

A final Senate vote is expected later today, with all but certain passage being ratified in the House tomorrow.

Democrats in the Senate moved ahead with the bill after an interim appointee, Carte Goodwin, was sworn in this afternoon to replace the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.V. Goodwin cast the 60th "yes" vote that gave the Democrats its filibuster-proof majority.

Nevada breaks unemployment record for 12th consecutive month in June; both state and Las Vegas expected to be at top in national unemployment rankings

Both my home state of Nevada and home city of Las Vegas reported record unemployment today. Reaching a new record high for the 12th consecutive month, the state's jobless rate ticked up two-tenths of a percentage point, to 14.2%, in June. The Las Vegas rate also jumped four-tens of a percentage point, to 14.5%, state officials announced today.

Although Las Vegas’ June rate again surpassed Michigan’s – which before May, had the nation’s highest jobless rate - it won’t be certain whether both the Silver State and Sin City again  will be #1 in U.S. unemployment among U.S. states and major cities until the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics tomorrow releases state jobless data for the remainder of states that haven’t independently released their data and releases its metropolitan-area data July 28.

But in the gambling capital of the world, odds are that the state and city will achieve the dubious distinctions once more.

Because the three states with the next-highest jobless rates in May all already have released their data, and all went down, “we do suspect Nevada will still have the highest unemployment rate” in the country, Jered McDonald, an economist with the Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation, said in an email interview earlier today.

Where Las Vegas will stand among large cities is more difficult to predict, McDonald added, because data at the metropolitan level is generally more volatile, and their rates are not adjusted for seasonal employment fluctuations the way state data is. “I can tell you, though, that in May, Las Vegas had the highest unemployment rate among the nation's largest metro areas,” he added. “With an increase of four-tenths [of a percent,] to 14.5% in June, Las Vegas will be right up there again.”    

Overreliance on tourism makes state dependent on national recovery
A slight decline in the U.S. unemployment rate in May was a good sign for Nevada because the state is so dependent on tourism spending from other parts of the country, DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson said in a statement.

“One thing many Nevadans have come to realize during the current recession is that economic forces beyond our borders have the potential to significantly impact performance in the Silver State,” Anderson added. “Along those same lines, policy decisions at the national level can potentially have significant ramifications here in Nevada.”

Lack of unemployment extension adds to pain
Adding to the continuing troubling employment picture in the state, the June expiration of federal unemployment benefits extensions is hurting a growing number of unemployed Nevadans, the DETR said.

To date, nearly 40,000 state residents have exhausted their UI benefits, a number that grew by about 7,300 – or 8.3% – the week of July 10 alone. At an average payment of around $300, the latest drop in unemployment insurance payments eliminated almost $12 million in federal money – in just a single week – dollars that typically flows directly into Nevada's economy, the DETR noted, and benefit scores of businesses people patronize in their everyday lives.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on an already passed House bill that would extend federally financed benefits. The Senate has been successful in filibustering the measure three times in the past few weeks, but a new Democratic senator to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) will take place before the fourth vote occurs, which is expected to give the Democrats the filibuster-proof 60 votes needed for passage.