Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that elements of Nevada’s economy have seen gains over the past 6 months, even with staggeringly high unemployment rates.
From April to September 2022, the state’s civilian labor force increased from 1,508,800 to 1,536,900 workers, and employment saw a rise from 1,433,200 to 1,469,600 jobs.
According to a monthly economic report from Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Nevada businesses added 3,600 jobs to the market in September alone and over 66,600 jobs in the past year, a 4.8 percent annual increase.
Most industries in the state have recovered the number of jobs lost during the peak of the pandemic in early 2020, or at least a large portion of them. The Government sector, for instance, recovered 96 percent of the jobs lost since the outbreak while food service industries and transportation and utility services experienced significant growth. The casino and hotel industries, however, struggle to return to their pre-pandemic numbers.
From February to September 2022, the construction and manufacturing industries have recovered more than 100 percent of their jobs (i.e. 105 and 112.4 percent, respectively), and both markets pay their workers higher wages on average than before (i.e. $1,334/week and $1,348/week, respectively).
On the other hand, the unemployment rate is still at a record high. In September 2022, the state’s unemployment rate clocked in at around 4.4 percent, unchanged since July 2022. BLS data ranks Nevada’s unemployment rate 48th nationally, with only Illinois and Washington, DC reporting higher percentages. The national average in September was reported at 3.5 percent, the lowest in half a century.
Carson City as well as Washoe, Douglas, Churchill, and Storey Counties each report a jobless rate of under 4.1 percent with Washoe County below the national average at 3.4 percent. The highest unemployment rate in all of Nevada comes in at 5.7 percent and belongs to Clark County, where out of the area’s 1.15 million workers, over 66,000 remain unemployed.
That being said, Nevada’s unemployment rate has improved somewhat over the course of six months. Between April and September 2022, the rate decreased from 5.0 to 4.4 percent, according to a BLS report.
Additionally, Nevada is seeing 64 times fewer unemployment claims since the peak of the pandemic. BLS data shows that between April and September 2022, unemployment claims dropped from 75,600 to 67,300.
What’s more, David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, asserts that Nevada is in a “pretty strong place” with a healthy level of unemployment. Schmidt hopes to see Nevada’s economy change from a rapidly growing market to a slower, more sustainable momentum.
Inflation is high, interest rates are rising, and some fear an incoming recession, which may alleviate inflation at the expense of Nevada workers. Daniel Zhao, lead economist at the job search website Glassdoor, said it is possible to curb inflation without diving headfirst into a recession through a cooling job market, which he described as a “soft landing.”
“A gradually slowing job market means that a soft landing is still possible,” said Zhao. “As long as the unemployment rate remains low, a soft landing is not off the table.”
As Nevada markets reach their peak growth and unemployment continues its 6-month downward trend, the probability of a soft landing becomes more likely while a recession will appear less and less imminent.