Executive Summary

This edition of Nevada’s Economy in Brief covers the March employment and unemployment releases for 2021. This month, we provide an economic overview of employment and unemployment trends through March 2021 in the state. This report also provides an additional analysis of COVID-19’s effect on specific demographic groups in the state and the conclusions we can draw at this time.

This month, we provide an economic overview of the state’s labor market. Many counties in the state have unemployment rates near pre-pandemic lows. However, the state still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation because it is primarily represented by Clark County which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Furthermore, Nevada remains one of the states most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and regaining pre-pandemic employment levels continues to be a challenge. Nevada is down 134,800 jobs, or 9.4 percent over the year which ranks the state third-worst in over the year employment growth when compared to its national counterparts, plus Washington D.C. Nevada’s large over the year employment decline is primarily due to its exceptionally large leisure and hospitality industry. Statewide, the leisure and hospitality industry is only at 70 percent of its pre-COVID peak employment levels, and is down 106,400 jobs. However when excluding Clark County, which accounts for the vast majority of the state’s leisure and hospitality industry, from the state’s unemployment calculation Nevada would have the 9th-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, including Washington D.C.

To examine Nevada’s labor market further, we then focus our attention on its demographic profile this month. To help the state’s constituents gain a better understanding of the data sources we use to look at the composition of Nevada’s workforce, we identify each source and highlight their own strengths and weaknesses. Next, we analyze demographics data over three periods - the demographics of state employment and unemployment prior to the recession, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and unemployment, and the current picture as we are in the process of rebounding from the pandemic. Our historical analysis identifies workers that are most likely to experience higher rates of unemployment in the state. Those workers tend to be those who are 24 or younger, are Black or American Indian, who are women with childresn both 0-5 and 6-17, who are living below the poverty level, who have a disability, or who have a high school degree or less.

Reviewing current conditions following the start of the COVID pandemic, the particular impact on workers from the accommodation & food service industry, on food preparation and serving workers, and on Black women, Hispanic women, and Black men is also apparent. Because these groups also have significant overlap with the groups that have historically high unemployment across the state’s counties, these groups will likely benefit the most from reemployment services as the state continues to recover from the severe economic impacts of the last year.

Ecomomic Overview

The Nevada economy has undergone some substantial changes over the last year as the COVID pandemic made its way through the state and the rest of the world. In a short period of time tens of thousands of jobs were lost and sectors of the economy were reshaped to function in the new pandemic-present environment. A year later the state’s labor market is beginning to show signs of its pre-pandemic days in some industries but remains below pre-pandemic levels in most industries. Although the labor market continues to improve, Nevada remains one of the states most impacted by the COVID pandemic. Increasing vaccination rates and an announcement to fully open the state on June 1st have provided hope that the economy will have a stronger rebound in the second half of the year, though the months immediately ahead are likely to remain challenging. This month, we examine current employment and unemployment levels and take a closer look at the changes in the State’s industries that have occurred over the last year.

Despite labor market challenges, Nevada’s economy has continued to recover from the COVID-19 recession, albeit economic activity remains below normal levels in most industries. In March 2021, Nevada is down 134,800 jobs, or just under nine and a half percent over the year. Employment increased over the month with leisure and hospitality contributing the largest increase in employment, with the gains concentrated in the Las Vegas area. Although job growth from February to March is typical in leisure and hospitality, this month’s job growth and news about increased activity following relaxation of capacity restrictions on businesses is encouraging. Las Vegas’s transportation industry also realized job gains, specifically in air freight and air passenger transport firms. While there is still ongoing significant disruption highly concentrated in the Las Vegas area, the state is adding jobs back in businesses that cater to tourism which indicates firms in the state may be gearing up to capture the pent-up demand for travel and tourism worldwide.