Nevada jobless rate has largest annual decline in US

Updated March 24, 2017 - 4:27 pm

Nevada’s unemployment rate saw the largest decline nationwide for year-over-year February unemployment.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the state posted a 1.2 percentage point decrease in February 2016.

Nevada went from a 6.1 percent unemployment rate in February 2016 to a 4.9 percent rate in February 2017. The state hasn’t seen an unemployment rate under 5 percent since November 2007.

The next closest states were West Virginia with 1.1 percentage points, going from 6.3 to 5.2 percent, and South Carolina with 1 percentage point, going from 5.4 to 4.4 percent.

Nevada joins other Mountain region states with strong hiring trends in the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor. In the past 12 months, job gains were strongest, in percentage terms, in Idaho, Utah and Nevada, all states in the Mountain region.

“The nice thing about this recovery is that it is very broad-based,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for Nevada’s Research and Analysis Bureau in the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. “Across all different regions in the state, across all different sectors, we’re seeing job growth.”

Nevada saw a 3.2 percent increase in over-the-year nonfarm payroll employment in February. The only states to best Nevada posted 3.6 percent, in Idaho, and 3.3 percent, in Utah.

That 3.2 percent increase means 41,200 hirings in Nevada between February 2016 and February 2017, bringing the number of employed to 1.32 million Nevadans.

In the state, about 1.44 million people were counted as members of the civilian labor force, meaning they were able and willing to work.

The state has an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, or about 71,000 of those people looking for work.

Nevada’s private sector growth ranks fourth in the nation, according to data from DETR.

The state posted a 3.5 percent job growth rate during the first nine months of 2016, besting all other states except Utah, Idaho and Florida.

Job gains in February were most robust in states outside the coastal regions that have fared the best since the Great Recession, the Labor Department report showed. The biggest gains, as a proportion of total jobs, were in Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

Unemployment rates fell sharply in 10 states and rose significantly in Massachusetts, with little change in the other 39.

Hiring trends are more apparent when compared with a year ago.

Other states that have struggled in past have also done well in past year. Michigan has seen its payrolls increase 1.9 percent since February 2016. The gains have mostly been outside manufacturing, with hiring up in construction, professional services such as accounting, and restaurants and hotels.

Similar patterns are evident in other former Rust Belt states. Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen solid job gains in the past year. But the increases have mostly been outside manufacturing. Pennsylvania has shed 4,500 factory jobs.

Five states have lost jobs in the past year: West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming. All those states have either oil and gas or coal mining industries, or both, which have taken sharp hits from falling energy prices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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