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Bad news on job front

After a few months of encouraging gaming and jobless numbers, the state’s unemployment rate ticked north in June, dashing hopes that Nevada will soon emerge from its economic morass.

Nevada’s unemployment number hit 12.4 percent in June, up from 12.1 percent in May. The news for Las Vegas was worse. The jobless rate jumped significantly to 13.8 percent, up from 12.4 percent.

Fact is, until the housing industry — read: construction — stabilizes, Southern Nevada will continue to lag. While the June numbers show employment gains in many areas, the local economy still relies heavily on jobs created through development on and off the Strip.

State officials pointed to uncertainty at the national level as a major factor for the continued malaise here.

“Most people are being very conservative right now,” said Mike Skaggs, executive director of the state Economic Development Commission. “If they felt like they could get some security, they’d be more inclined to buy goods and services, and the manufacturing and distribution of goods and services would be running again.”

The latest numbers led to sniping among Nevada’s congressional delegation.

“The policies of this administration are making our economy worse, and Nevadans are feeling the pain,” said Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican. “Throwing money at the problems through big-government interventions and programs clearly does not work.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley, who will likely be the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Heller next year, fired back.

“Dean Heller should be ashamed of himself,” Rep. Berkley said. The latest “unemployment numbers show that we all need to be focusing like a laser on putting Nevadans back to work, not breaking our promise to seniors and killing jobs in order to pay for more taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil companies making record profits.”

Rep. Berkley is right about one thing: Somebody in Washington needs to be “focusing like a laser” on creating the conditions that encourage entrepreneurs to hire and invest.

Problem is, she’s consistently supported the policies of Barack Obama, who it should be clear by now has no inclination to pursue such a pro-growth strategy.

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