CARSON CITY – Nevada’s official jobless rate may have jumped three-tenths of a percentage point to 12.4 percent in June, but a broader measure of the state’s unemployment picture showed some slight improvement through the second quarter of this year.
The quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a state-by-state unemployment measure that encompasses discouraged workers and those who are working part time even though they would like full-time employment. When these individuals are counted, the unemployment rate is much higher than the official rate released each month nationally and by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
Nevada again ranked worst among the states at 23.3 percent in the report, which covers 12 months of data through June 30, but the rate was a slight improvement from the 12 months through the first quarter when it was 23.7 percent.
California was again second at 21.8 percent. The national average was 16.3 percent.
Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Research and Analysis Bureau of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said he is not surprised by the improvement shown in the report despite the uptick in the June jobs report.
“Keep in mind that in each of the first five months of this year, our official unemployment rate declined from 14.9 percent in December down to 12.1 percent in May,” he said. “We did see a slight uptick, up to 12.4 percent in June, so this data, in that it looks backwards over the course of the 12-month period, is picking up that improvement.
“So it doesn’t surprise me at all that we saw this slight down tick in this measure of labor market health,” Anderson said.
The “Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States, Third Quarter of 2010 through Second Quarter of 2011 Averages,” shows six different jobless rates using different measures. The broadest definition, U-6, includes “discouraged workers,” defined as people who want work but who had not searched for work in the previous four weeks because they believed no jobs were available to them. It also includes “marginally attached” workers, defined as those who had not looked for work in the previous four weeks for any reason.
Finally the measure includes those employed part-time for economic reasons, defined as those working less than 35 hours per week who want to work full time, are available to do so, and gave an economic reason – their hours had been cut back or they were unable to find a full-time job – for working part time. These individuals are sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that this broader definition of unemployment is based on relatively small sample sizes at the state level.
Anderson said he believes the economy, both nationally and in Nevada, will move sideways for the time being.
“That’s certainly not good news, but it certainly represents an improvement over where we were just a year ago,” he said. “A year ago we had an unemployment rate of 14.9 percent. Now we’re at 12.4 percent. Still high but nonetheless better.”
The jobs picture is flat in Nevada over the past year, but that too is an improvement over mid-2009 when job losses were nearing 10 percent on a year-over-year basis, Anderson said.
“So again not outright growth but certainly better than where we were just a short time ago,” he said.
State economist Bill Anderson says the improvement in the report corresponds with Nevada’s declining jobless rate over the past several months:
Anderson says the down tick is not a surprise:
Anderson says Nevada’s unemployment rate remains high, but much improved over a year ago: