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.

No comments: