Las Vegas jobless rate defies trend, rises to 6 percent

Local unemployment bucked statewide trends and jumped in March.

The Las Vegas Valley’s jobless rate rose to 6 percent in the month, up from 5.6 percent in February, but down from 7.2 percent in March 2015, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported Tuesday.

The employment department reported on April 13 that Nevada’s March jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent, down from 5.9 percent a month earlier.

Unlike local figures, statewide rates are seasonally adjusted and more stable. It’s not unusual to see wider swings or separate trends in unadjusted local rates.

What matters is that all of the state’s key employment sectors are adding jobs, said Bill Anderson, the employment department’s chief economist.

“Despite the minor upticks in the unemployment rate in the metro areas, the Silver State’s economy is still faring well,” Anderson said. “All economic indicators show positive signs despite monthly volatility in the metro area rates.”

Local job growth came in at 2.7 percent in March, compared with a national formation rate of 2 percent.

In Las Vegas, construction growth in particular surged, adding 13.4 percent, or 6,500 jobs, to its employment base, which now stands at 55,000. That’s up from a recession-era low of about 36,000, but still below a 2006 peak of about 112,000.

Retail jobs grew by 3.5 percent, to 108,400 positions, while education and health services gained 8.4 percent, to 92,900 jobs.

Professional and business services was mostly flat, adding 0.6 percent to its jobs base, which stands at 125,000.

Leisure and hospitality services also was flat. Operators pared 0.3 percent from their payrolls, for a job count of 281,200.

There were 932,100 jobs on local employer payrolls in March, and 62,500 people out of work and looking for a job.

People continued to flow into the local labor pool, which grew by 1.8 percent, or 14,700 people.

A growing work force has kept unemployment relatively high even amid strong job creation. National unemployment averaged 5 percent in March.

Contact Jennifer Robison at Find @_JRobison on Twitter.

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