weather icon Cloudy

Nevada unemployment rate 15 percent in June

Updated July 15, 2020 - 5:16 pm

Nevada’s unemployment rate dropped sharply last month as casinos reopened from a lengthy lockdown, but plenty of people remain out of work as coronavirus infections surge again.

An estimated 15 percent of Nevada’s workforce was unemployed in June, down from 25.3 percent in May, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, or DETR, reported Wednesday.

The state added 98,900 jobs in that time, said the department, which noted that Nevada’s unemployment rate, despite tumbling, was above the U.S. jobless rate of 11.1 percent.

Still, the gains mark a strong comeback for Nevada’s tourism-heavy economy, which suffered huge job losses when the coronavirus pandemic sparked sweeping business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders around the nation.

Gov. Steve Sisolak, who ordered casinos and other businesses closed in March to help contain the virus’ spread, turning the Strip into a virtual ghost town, has let employers reopen the past few months, albeit at limited capacity. Casinos, the backbone of Las Vegas’ economy, were allowed to reopen June 4, more than two months after they went dark.

Overall, of the 287,300 jobs lost in Nevada since the pandemic started, 44 percent were recovered over the last two months, DETR reported.

But with cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, surging in Nevada, the state’s economy remains on shaky ground.

Sisolak, for instance, recently ordered bars in Clark County and other areas of Nevada to close again for at least two weeks because of the heightened caseload. Southern Nevada bar owners have sued to block the order.

DETR chief economist Dave Schmidt said in a news release Wednesday that while the job gains are “encouraging, it is important to remember that conditions have changed since the middle of June, and the evolving public health landscape and necessary restrictions will continue to impact Nevada’s labor market for several months to come.”

With the public health crisis still raging in Nevada and other states, it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take for the tourism industry to recover from the chaos.

As seen in state records, tens of thousands of Southern Nevada hotel-casino workers have received notices since the pandemic hit that their employment could end.

In May, for instance, more than 36,600 MGM Resorts International workers received notice that they could be laid off Aug. 31.

“We are hopeful that the industry will continue recovering, business demand will continue rising and we can welcome back many more employees soon,” MGM spokesman Brian Ahern recently said.

He did not say whether those layoffs still look likely.

Nevada’s economy had started the year on strong footing before the coronavirus outbreak turned life upside down virtually overnight.

The state’s jobless rate, just 3.6 percent in February, shot up to a jaw-dropping 30.1 percent in April before it tumbled the past few months, state and federal data show.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.