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Jobless rate climbs to 5.2 percent

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s unemployment rate continued to creep up in October, hitting 5.2 percent, five-tenths of a percentage point over the national rate, a state agency reported Tuesday.

The October seasonally adjusted jobless rate was an increase of a tenth of a percentage point over September, and it is attributed to a housing slump and slowdown in construction-related employment, according to the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. The jobless rate a year ago was 4.3 percent.

The Las Vegas rate, which is not seasonally adjusted for fluctuations in employment, was 5.1 percent in October.

Nevada’s job growth has fallen to 0.9 percent over the year, extending a string of five-year lows, said William Anderson, chief economist for the agency.

"The housing slump continues to negatively impact Nevada’s unemployment," he said. "With winter approaching, it is unlikely that housing market conditions and, therefore, construction-related employment, will improve any time soon.

"However the gaming industry should get a boost from the opening of the Palazzo in Las Vegas in December."

The Palazzo, which will adjoin The Venetian, is expected to employ about 4,000 workers, he said. The Palazzo will provide the biggest increase in gaming employment since Wynn Las Vegas opened in April 2005.

The retail sector should get a boost in November, not only from the start of holiday season hiring, but also from the opening of a Cabela’s sporting goods store in Reno and the Town Square mixed-use project south of the Strip.

Anderson said an analysis of employment changes over the past six months has provided a clearer picture of current job market conditions than any of the recent monthly reports, which were marked by the usual summer labor market volatility.

From April to October, Nevada added 300 net jobs, he said. In the previous five years, job growth averaged more than 33,000 over the same six-month period, Anderson said.

The biggest job gains this year were in the education and health care, leisure and hospitality and retail trade industries. Each of those industries added between 1,400 and 1,800 jobs since April. However, those gains were offset by job losses in other industries. Construction and employment services, or temporary help, lost 2,800 and 3,900 jobs, respectively, and the financial sector shed 600 jobs.

"On the national front, the credit market crisis remains the dominant story as financial firms continue to write off billions of dollars in bad mortgage loans," Anderson said. "The concern remains that a tightening of credit, both to consumers and businesses, will help push the economy into recession. The Federal Reserve has already lowered interest rates twice in an attempt to stabilize the credit market and stimulate the economy."

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