Nevada workforce still more part-time & precarious than before the crash

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Source: Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

For all the talk about Nevada’s economic recovery, the Great Recession made structural changes that have created a more part-time and precariously employed workforce than Nevada had prior to the economic crash. 

And for all the headlines about Tesla and technology parks, and despite all the political rhetoric about workforce development and economic diversification, most jobs in Nevada are still in accommodations, food service and related service sectors.

Those are some of the takeaways of an analysis of overall long-term Nevada employment trends, by sector, released Wednesday by the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

The number of Nevadans working part-time “for economic reasons” — workers who would prefer to work full-time but have had hours cut or can’t find full-time work — remains substantially higher in Nevada in 2019 than it was before the economic crash. More than 52,000 Nevadans are involuntary part-time workers, roughly twice as many as in 2007.

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Source: Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Nevada’s rate of involuntary part-time workers is the sixth highest in the nation.

Nevada also has more “discouraged workers” and  “marginal workers” now than it had before the crash. 

The DETR report describes discouraged workers as “those people who would like to work, but have stopped looking for work because they believe there are no jobs to be filled.” Nevada’s rate of discouraged workers is the nation’s tenth highest.

Marginal workers are “workers who have not searched for work for reasons other than belief that there are no jobs to fill (school attendance, transportation problems, poor health, family responsibilities, etc.).”

Nevada’s rate of marginal workers is the ninth highest in the country.

One thing that in some ways is largely unchanged from the before the crash is the concentration of Nevada employment in hotels and food & drink service.

Nationally, the “leisure and hospitality” sector — which covers service jobs such as those in accommodations and food service, including fast food — accounts for 10 percent of the workforce. In Nevada, it’s more than twice that.

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Source: Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation

Between January 2004 and June 2019, leisure and hospitality in Nevada averaged 23.7 percent of the workforce, topping out at 25.5 percent in 2015. As of June, the roughly 333,000 people working in the sector accounted for 21.8 percent of the workforce.

The next largest employment sector is “trade, transportation and utilities,” a categorization that includes retail sales, which has long been one of the state’s largest sources of employment. The sector’s 295,000 jobs account for 19.3 percent of the workforce.

The “manufacturing” and “information” sectors, which are often the focus of “jobs of tomorrow” promised by policymakers, still employ comparatively small numbers of Nevadans. Manufacturing for years has been among the state’s fastest growing employment sectors, and as of June, accounted for 75,000 jobs in the state — about 5 percent of the workforce.

Fewer than 30,000 Nevadans — less than 2 percent of the workforce — work in information.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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