State still getting kicked by slow economy

Nevada was one of only 24 states that saw a drop in unemployment in May, the Labor Department reported. The jobless rate fell to 12.1 percent, down from a high of 14.9 percent in December.

That's a small amount of good news for a state that took perhaps the biggest hit in the recent economic downturn. But the 12.1 percent figure -- while slightly improved -- still left the state with the worst rate in the nation.

And the rate was up in the state's population centers, to 12.4 percent in Las Vegas and 11.8 percent in Reno/Sparks.

Most of the minimal job growth took place in rural Nevada, where the construction industry added 1,900 jobs. The biggest losses came in the financial activities sector, which lost 1,100 jobs, and the trade transportation and utility sectors, which dropped 1,000 positions.

State economist Bill Anderson said the new numbers indicate the Nevada economy has stabilized, but that job growth remains slow. The 1,500 jobs added last month "was much less than expected given normal seasonal trends," he said.

But merely treading water hardly amounts to great progress. Besides, what do the numbers really mean when the state has lost almost 4 percent of its work force in the past year and nearly three-quarters of Nevada homeowners are upside down on their mortgages?

The Obama recovery has been virtually nonexistent in many parts of the country, particularly the Silver State. And it's likely to stay that way until the president figures out that threats of higher taxes and an expanded regulatory state don't amount to an effective jobs policy.