Nevada public sector workforce shrank during the pandemic

By: - September 14, 2021 2:25 pm

The Regional Justice Center in Downtown Las Vegas. (Photo by Ronda Churchill for The Nevada Current)

Nevada’s non-education public sector workforce is down 5.2% compared to pre-pandemic, according to a new analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Comparing employment data from July 2021 with July 2019, Pew found that 14 states recorded declines of more than 5% in their state and local governments, excluding education jobs.

Almost a dozen states reported larger declines than Nevada.

Only four states — Texas, South Dakota, Rhode Island and West Virginia — had larger non-education public sectors in July 2021 compared to July 2019.


In Nevada, employment overall was down 5.98% in July 2021 compared to July 2019, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents nearly 85,000 jobs statewide.

Government officials have warned that many of those jobs may not return as employers reconfigure their operations to include fewer employees. Public and private sector employers have also reported difficulties finding workers.

Nevada’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.7% in July 2021 — the highest in the nation. That statewide rate was led by the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which reported a 9.4% unemployment rate — again, the highest in the nation.

While Pew’s most recent data dive focused on the non-education public sector, last year the organization reported that Nevada’s education public sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic. When comparing September 2019 to September 2020 data, they found Nevada’s local education employment was down 19.1% — the biggest decline of any state.

Those numbers have since improved both nationally and in Nevada, but they too have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and two mutts.