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Nevada breaks record, regains all jobs lost during pandemic

Updated July 22, 2022 - 10:12 am

Nevada set an all-time employment record in June, officially recovering all of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday.

The state reached 1,452,600 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in June, 3,000 more than the previous record from February 2020, Sisolak said in a joint statement with the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation.

Nevada added a record 7,600 jobs in June and is up 90,400 jobs since June 2021, an annual increase of 6.6 percent that ranks as the best in the nation. The U.S. as a whole is still down 500,000 jobs from its peak.

David Schmidt, chief economist for the DETR, said Nevada still has work to do but should mark this milestone.

“We did have a bigger hole to climb out of than some others, but this is really exciting psychologically,” he said in an interview. “Having taken the hit that we did, to recover all that is very exciting.”

The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes casinos, is still lagging behind at 90.7 percent of its prepandemic peak, but five industries have risen above their previous peaks to pull the rest of the state up — trade, transportation and utilities (109.8 percent of its peak); manufacturing (109.5); financial activities (108); education and health services (105.2); and construction (101.5).

Schmidt said the good news from this trend was that the industries at about their peaks tend to pay wages above the state average. However, the leisure and hospitality sector is still looking to recover 33,800 jobs from its peak in February 2020. In particular, the hotel and casino subsector is only at 80 percent of its peak, Schmidt said.

Workers still waiting

Culinary Local 226 said there are still about 10,000 union members who were laid off during the pandemic who have not been called back to work.

Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary union, said contracts for 50,000 workers expire next June, and “we need to start getting ready right now!”

“Workers have fought hard over the past two years to protect everything that we’ve built, and we are not going backwards,” Pappageorge said in a statement. “We are going to move forward and fight back.”

Nevada’s unemployment rate fell, but remains one of the worst in the country. The state unemployment rate in June was 4.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from May and down 2.5 percentage points compared with June 2021. However, only the District of Columbia (5.5 percent) and New Mexico (4.9) rank lower than Nevada.

“It’s going to take a number of months to pull that number down,” Schmidt said. “It just doesn’t move as fast.”

Schmidt said he was encouraged by the number of people filing initial claims for unemployment. Though that number rose 6.5 percent from May to 8,489, it is down 17.2 percent from a year ago and below prepandemic levels.

Sisolak vs. Lombardo

Overall, Sisolak praised the numbers as another step in Nevada’s recovery.

“Nevada’s economy passed another benchmark this month, recovering all of the jobs that were lost during the COVID pandemic, and doing so in a way that has more Nevadans working in better-paying jobs than before the pandemic,” he said in a statement. “Nevada has never had more jobs than we do today, and we will keep working to keep Nevada moving forward.”

Elizabeth Ray, a spokeswoman for Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the Republican nominee for governor who is facing Sisolak in the fall, said Sisolak was attempting to “economically gaslight Nevadans” by painting a rosy picture of the economy.

“While Steve Sisolak continues to try to brag about his ‘economic record,’ most Nevada families are struggling to afford gas, rent and groceries,” she said in a statement. “Sisolak is out of touch, and he’s out of time to deliver for Nevadans.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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