By one yardstick, Nevada's jobless rate is nearly 20 percent

Nevada’s jobless rate is still in the double digits, at least by one measure.

If you count discouraged Nevadans who quit looking for jobs and underemployed part-timers who would rather work full-time, the Silver State’s unemployment rate averaged 19 percent in the second quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Monday.

That was down from 19.6 percent in the first quarter and 20.3 percent at the end of last year. The rate peaked at 23.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011, nearly four times the 6.8 percent rate in the boom year of 2006.

The decline of the past three quarters “says our recovery has been gaining strength over the past year, so that we’re finally generating enough jobs to really start putting people back to work in Nevada,” said Steve Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Nevada added 23,600 jobs in the first half of this year, for a growth rate of 2.1 percent. That’s well above the national job-formation rate of 1.6 percent.

Officially, Nevada’s jobless rate was 9.6 percent in June, according to the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. The Las Vegas rate was 10.1 percent, though the department doesn’t seasonally adjust local rates, so city data can be more volatile.

That official rate counts people who applied for jobless benefits for the first time, along with people who reported in a phone survey that they were out of work and looking in the past four months.

Economists and public agencies use the official rate because it’s tough to accurately pin down who has given up looking for work and who is underemployed.

Plus, the discouraged-worker rate is reported only quarterly, and it’s a rolling annual average, so it lags broader economic gains, Brown said.

Still, the rate matters because it gives a better measure of overall dislocation in the labor market, Brown added.

Nevada had 13,000 discouraged workers in May, down from a high of 18,000 last year, according to figures from the employment department. The state doesn’t track the number of part-timers.

Nevada continued to outpace the nation’s discouraged-worker unemployment rate of 14.3 percent.

After Nevada, California ranked second, with a rate of 18.3 percent. Oregon was No. 3, at 16.9 percent. North Dakota, which is experiencing an energy-driven economic surge, posted the lowest discouraged-worker rate, at 6.2 percent.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison on Twitter.