This Is the Unemployment Rate in American's Smallest City

Once a month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out its Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary. The October edition was just released. The analysis covers unemployment in America’s 389 metropolitan areas and compares them to, among other things, the same month the year before.

For October, the jobless rate was higher in 384 of the 389 metropolitan areas, compared to the same month in 2019. A total of 124 areas had jobless rates of less than 5% and 16 areas had rates of at least 10%.

The smallest of these metro areas is Carson City, Nevada, which has a population of 55,916. Its jobless rate was 6.6%, double the 3.3% from the same month the year before.

The metro sits east of Lake Tahoe, on the California border. It is over 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the largest metro area in the state.

Carson City’s unemployment rate is well below Nevada’s, which was 11.8% in October. This is due to the unemployment rate of 13.8% in the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro. The Las Vegas number collapsed as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the tourism and gambling industries.

Carson City has a relatively dense population for a city in a state with a population that is not. It covers 145 square miles and has a density of 386 per square mile.

Carson City has a median household income of $57,270, which is about 90% of the national number. Its poverty rate near 12% is about the same as the U.S. average.

The median value of an occupied home in Carson City is $325,200, or about 1.4 times the national average.

Just below 87% of the residents have an education of high school graduate, or about the same as the national figure. Just over 23% have a bachelor’s degree or better, about two-thirds of the U.S. figure.

Carson City’s unemployment rate is far below Nevada’s because gambling companies and hotels are not among its largest employers. The Carson City School District, Carson Tahoe Health, the City of Carson, the Nevada Department of Transportation, Western Nevada College, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and the Nevada Department of Corrections have the largest workforces in the metro. Among the others are Walmart and Costco.

Carson has dodged Nevada’s gambling industry problem and will continue to do so, given its largest employers.