Nevada's Jobless Rate Tops 25%

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics has released its State Employment and Unemployment survey for May. The national rate, reported earlier in the month, was 13.3%. In one state, the jobless rate was at Great Depression levels. It reached 25.3%. That was the highest among all states and the District of Columbia.

The highest annual unemployment rate of the last 100 years was 24.9% in 1933. It was part of a string of four years during which the figure topped 20%. The other numbers were 23.6% in 1932, 21.7% in 1934 and 20.1% in 1935. The level jumped sharply over a short period. The annual rate in 1929 was just 3.2%.

The 3.2% is just a tick lower than over the recent most two-year period, during which the jobless rate was well below 4% — until the onset of the spread of the coronavirus. As a matter of fact, the unemployment levels for 2018 and 2019 were the lowest in half a century.

Nevada was particularly hard hit because of the hospitality industry, mostly centered in Las Vegas. That Metropolitan Area has a population of 2,227,053. Nevada’s is 3,080,156. Gambling in the city was shut down, and with it, countless restaurants and hotels.

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation website is crowded with programs for the unemployed. There is an entire section named the “Nevada Unemployment Insurance Information for Claimants and Employers.” It is made up primarily of a long list of links to other services for those out of work and their former employers.

According to a recent 24/7 Wall St. analysis of unemployment claims per state:

> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 509,527 (24th fewest)
> Unemployment claims relative to workforce: 33.3% of workforce (8th highest)
> April unemployment rate: 28.2% (the highest)
> Most recent week’s unemployment claims (June 7 – June 13): 14,399 (23rd fewest)
> Change in weekly claims from one year ago: +11,885 (+473%)
> Pre-COVID-19 pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 33.5% (the highest)

It is an ugly situation. Las Vegas began to “reopen” on June 4. When taking into account that many hotels and restaurants are not open and the social distancing will limit the number of people on the gambling floors and restaurants, the jobless situation in Nevada will improve only modestly. It will be a long road before the unemployment situation looks anything like it did before the spread of COVID-19.

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