CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada's jobless rate inched up to 12 percent in July as modest growth in private industry jobs was partially offset by continued losses in the state's hard-hit construction trades and in the public sector, state officials reported Friday. It's the first uptick in Nevada's unemployment rate 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.
In Las Vegas, unemployment was at 12.9 percent in July, while 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. In a broader measure, 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 said he's encouraged by the modest job growth but said the higher unemployment rate is evidence that the state needs to continue trying to attract new businesses. He suggested the "backdrop of a weak national economy" was partially to blame for Nevada's slow economic recovery.
The report shows 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.