By Thomas Mitchell
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation sent out an email press release Friday morning reporting that the state unemployment rate for April stood at nearly 30 percent, the highest ever recorded and double the national rate.
The unemployment rate in Nevada was 28.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 29.8 percent on an unadjusted basis, compared to the national rate of 14.7 percent adjusted and 14.5 percent unadjusted.
Gov. Steve Sisolak, whose panicked order to shutdown most of the businesses in the state in overreaction to the little understood coronavirus, was quoted as saying, “Nevada is facing record high unemployment and the sheer numbers are difficult to comprehend. I am so pleased that DETR staff is working so hard to connect Nevadans to their benefits during this time, paying out more than 80 percent of eligible claims week over week. Nevada is working diligently to get people back to work as fast as possible, in a safe and responsible manner.” (Pay no heed to the fact the website that was supposed to allow unemployed gig workers to file was still down early today.)
David Schmidt, chief economist for DETR, pointed out that over the past year private sector employment in Nevada saw a 20 percent drop, while public sector employment fell only 3.2 percent. An attachment showed that the annual drop from April to April for the leisure and hospitality sector, which included shuttered hotels and casinos, fell 39.3 percent.
With slow phased openings being allowed and contemplated by Sisolak, don’t expect many of those jobs to ever return. Many businesses are closing permanently as owners go broke. Others that are reopening at half capacity or less and need only half as many workers, except for those doing the disinfecting of every touchable surface.
As jobless benefits expire and the jobs fail to return, expect many to drop out of the labor force entirely. That will statistically cut the jobless rate. Others can be expected to leave the state in search of jobs elsewhere.
A jobless rate of less than 10 percent in the coming two years may not be likely. While the shutdown was an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 hospitalizations to avoid a crisis, in Nevada the curve was flat, according to records obtained by the morning paper. And according to DETR, health care jobs were lost, too.
The Health Care and Social Assistance jobs fell 11 percent year over year and Ambulatory Health Care Services jobs fell 17.7 percent.
Hospital jobs were unchanged in April, but there have been reports that hospitals have laid off staff due to the ban on elective surgery.
Was this trip really necessary?
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Thomas Mitchell is a former newspaper editor who now writes conservative/libertarian columns for weekly papers in Nevada. You may email Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.